South Korea's Groundhog Year [Foreign Policy]In 2019, Moon Jae-in was fighting hard for a draw in all fronts. South Korea is not paying five times in defense contribution to the US, but it will continue to face the issue as long as Trump is the president. Japan is gradually reconsidering its trade war, but its export control against South Korea persists. South Korea’s air force repelled the incursion by Russian and Chinese air force, but one ferocious response is not changing the lopsided balance of power that South Korea faces against the two former communist superpowers. Most importantly, despite the deteriorating inter-Korean relations with no denuclearized North Korea in sight, the Korean Peninsula is not back in the days of “fire and fury” in 2017—at least, not yet.
That will likely change in 2020. North Korea has set a deadline of year end 2019 for talks, and there is no indication that any breakthrough is in store in the short remaining time of this year. The Trump administration, distracted with the ongoing impeachment that implicates many of its senior diplomats, is unlikely to make much progress in North Korean diplomacy. North Korea’s unwillingness to have a meaningful discussion in Stockholm in October indicates that the window for diplomacy may have already closed at any rate. Once diplomacy ends, in all likelihood we are headed back to the times of missiles and nuclear testing, raising once again the specter of a nuclear war.
Monday, February 24, 2020
Media Appearance: South Korea's Groundhog Year on Foreign Policy
A review of South Korea's diplomacy in 2019: