There’s a Korean saying that goes “Chop 10 times, and there isn’t a tree that won’t fall over.” Sometimes that number goes up to 100, but the underlying point—fundamental to courtship in South Korea—is one of persistence. Women are expected to play hard to get until a man proves he’s worth her time and her heart. The first rejection hardly ever means “no”; it just means you have to work harder and she will eventually come around.
When it comes to the world of work, a similar mentality of “Keep at it till you make it” is often fueled by the hierarchical nature, albeit in sharply different ways and degrees, of both North and South Korean society—orders from the top must be followed. Failure, or declaring something impossible before trying, is never an option.
Perhaps this philosophy was Kim Jong Un’s guiding star during his February summit with President Donald Trump in Hanoi. At the time, the North Korean leader refused to budge on his offer that Pyongyang would dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for key sanctions relief, and appeared to have no Plan B when Trump rejected that bargain. Perhaps he was of the belief that persistence would prevail. (Or perhaps it was just the good old-fashioned “salami slicing” tactics common in North Korean negotiations.)
Read the full article in The Atlantic.
More from CNAS
CommentaryHow American Progressives Think About Asian Security
Democrats running for the 2020 U.S. presidential nomination implicitly accept – or at least have not rejected – the premise that the United States’ fate is linked to that of t...
By Van Jackson
CommentarySituation Report: U.S.-North Korea Negotiations to Resume This Weekend
After months of stalled talks, U.S. and North Korean representatives will meet this weekend to resume negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Just this week, ...
By Duyeon Kim, Elizabeth Rosenberg, Kristine Lee, Van Jackson & Neil Bhatiya
CommentaryHow to Make Proportionate Bargains with North Korea on Denuclearization and Peace
The United States and North Korea will finally sit down for nuclear talks on October 5, according to an announcement by Pyongyang. Three months had passed without negotiations...
By Duyeon Kim
CommentaryConfronting Reality: The Bitter Medicine That North Korea Policy Needs Now
My entire career, I’ve watched policy officials make the well-intentioned choice to seek North Korean denuclearization. In the early 2000s, it was a smart and necessary goal. ...
By Van Jackson