Biden’s First Trip to South Korea Will Test Unproven New Strategy

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Courtesy of Matt Johnson (Flickr CC0)

One year after his administration reviewed its North Korea policy, President Joe Biden will be at the center of his unproven strategy. Administration officials focus on displays of strength and accord with South Korea and a “calibrated, practical approach,” seeking gradual headway toward denuclearization through diplomatic arrangements. A potential missile launch could cause tension while Biden is in the region.

Testing Biden’s response

The US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, stated the US is “prepared” for a North Korean nuclear or missile test while Biden is in the region. The President could accordingly revise the US’s military stance in the area.

The President’s strategy is to get a meeting with North Korea this year since the government reviewed the US policy toward their country. Officials said they are concerned, but they will continue to seek diplomacy with the North.

Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will augment their joint military exercises to strengthen the military cooperation that Trump had strived to end.

COVID in North Korea Could be a Possibility for De-Escalation

Courtesy of MD111 (Flickr CC0)

US officials and North Korean experts state that North Korea’s insufficient diplomatic arrangement with the US and coronavirus lockdown measures has occurred throughout Biden’s time in office. But North Korea’s announcement of the coronavirus outbreak could be a possibility for de-escalation.

While US officials believe the outbreak will not stop North Korea from conducting a missile test, they are watching for signs that it could accept South Korean or international aid to fight the epidemic.

A senior US administration official said the Biden administration implied to North Korea that it is willing to discuss coronavirus relief aid. Still, there has been no direct outreach since the latest outbreak.

A Significant Shift from Trump’s Diplomacy

Trump’s diplomatic strategy toward North Korea reflected the unpredictable disposition of his presidency. In the early days of his presidency, Trump assumed an aggressive approach to the North and its leader.

If impulses persist, Trump threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea from his summer home in New Jersey. He boasted that his nuclear button was more extensive than Kim’s. He devised an insult to Kim and referred to him as “Little Rocket Man” during his United Nations speech.

But, the policy pivoted in another direction after a historic summit in Singapore where Trump and Kim exchanged what Trump called “love letters.” They met again in Hanoi, but those dialogues crumbled over sanctions relief differences.

Trump traveled to the Korean demilitarized zone when he visited Seoul to meet Kim.

Biden will withhold a stop to the demilitarized zone and opted for a briefing at Osan Air Base instead.

Trump’s endeavors paused the North Korean provocations with a reduction in nuclear and missile tests. Yet his efforts to convince Kim to conclude his nuclear program ultimately caused no progress toward the denuclearization goal.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson

CNN Politics: Biden’s North Korea strategy is a long way from Trump’s showy diplomacy
News of Max: Biden’s North Korea strategy is a long way from Trump’s showy diplomacy
Fox 55: Biden’s North Korea strategy is a long way from Trump’s showy diplomacy; Jonathan Ernst

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Matt Johnson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of MD111‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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