At Bloomberg View Leonid Bershidsky explains why negotiating with North Korea is impossible:
Mansky’s negotiations were with rather senior officials in the North Korean propaganda machine but perhaps things can go better if the supreme leader himself is involved in talks? Mansky doesn’t think so. “Paradoxically,” he says, “the man at the top doesn’t make decisions, either, because he’s dependent on the dictatorship he has created.” As Mansky tells it, the Kim dictatorship must maintain the cult that was created to sustain it, absurd rules and all; it’s a two-way street of mutual reinforcement. The Communist regime under which Mansky and I both grew up sort of worked like that, too — but North Korea has created a “perfect, flawless” version of the game,
Mansky looked for signs of the trademark late Soviet irony, the doublethink that allowed our parents, and for some time also us, to survive in an absurd system. He didn’t find any. That left him convinced that the indoctrination of North Koreans was absolute. While they realized the regime’s propaganda was fake, their belief in the necessity of that fakery was absolute.
It’s been tried. It didn’t work. It can’t work. Read the whole thing.
The only real prospect for dealing with North Korea short of risking a nuclear World War III resides in changing China’s incentives to the degree that they’re willing to shut North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program down. That will take determination of a sort that we haven’t shown in decades.