South Korea is eager for Trump’s attention to North Korea because of efforts to deal with Pyongyang

Joe Biden’s lack of ambition to seek a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea has caused some South Koreans to miss the gorgeous summit of Donald Trump.

The Biden administration has adopted an “adjusted and pragmatic approach” to North Korea, insisting that once Pyongyang is ready, it is willing to engage in diplomatic contacts without preconditions.

But observers in Seoul and Washington said that although Kim Jong-un has strengthened the management of the North Korean issue, they are unwilling to clarify the proposal and the lack of participation at the highest level indicates that they want to manage the North Korean issue rather than solve it. Missile and Nuclear Program.

“The government won’t say that, but their policy towards North Korea is indeed a kind of benign neglect,” said Sumitri, director of the Center for Korean History and Public Policy at the Wilson Center in Washington and formerly of the Central Intelligence Agency. Analyst.

“For completely understandable reasons, they seem to have given up any hope of a breakthrough,” adding that the government’s focus is on China.

When North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States in 2017, Trump announced that he would send “fire and anger” to this East Asian country.

After policymakers in Seoul and Washington feared a period of intense tension and belligerent rhetoric that would lead to war, the two leaders met in Singapore in 2018 and Hanoi in 2019. The summit overturned the traditional US practice on the Korean Peninsula.

Donald Trump told North Korea that after testing an intercontinental ballistic missile in Pyongyang, he will rain “fire and fury” © Associated Press

Their meeting was accompanied by a series of inter-Korean summits in 2018. Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in had a historic handshake at the boundary between the two countries.

Ankit Panda, a North Korean weapons expert at the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, said: “At the time, there was a very strong possibility in Seoul, even ecstatic.” “Everyone thought that Kim Jong-un was going to the city. There is a feeling that South Korea is at the forefront of history.”

But due to differences in lifting sanctions and dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program, this process in Hanoi collapsed. Since then, Kim Jong-un has not held talks, and he has imposed a lockdown on his country in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has exacerbated his sense of isolation.

For officials in the Biden administration, Trump’s failure in North Korea’s strategy justified their low-key approach.

“We [North Korea] And keep an open mind, you can meet with them without preconditions,” said a State Council spokesperson.

“We want North Korea [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] Will actively respond to our outreach activities. However, to date, we have not received any substantive response from North Korea to our meeting proposal. “

A senior official in the Western government said: “A lot of criticism against Americans comes from those who believe that the key to solving the North Korean problem is to find a magic formula that can suddenly satisfy North Koreans.

“The rest of us should not chase the North Koreans, especially when they have not expressed their willingness to participate in the negotiations-we are not just trying to make Kim Jong Un happy.”

The chart shows the recognition of the Trump administration's policies by South Koreans in 2019

But the United States insisted that the ball angered members of the Moon Jae-in administration in Kim’s court. It tried to persuade the United States to lift sanctions and announce the official end of the Korean War in order to return Pyongyang to the negotiating table, but it was unsuccessful.

“The position of the United States is stable management, and the South Korean government is losing patience,” said Moon Jeong-in, chairman of the Sejong Institute think tank and former special adviser to President Moon. “We have been urging the US government to send some positive signals; it is natural for North Korea not to respond to empty proposals.”

A member of the inner circle of the South Korean president told the Financial Times: “The Biden administration pretended to care about our proposal, but it has not yet accepted them.”

In September, the chairman of South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party stated that “although the Trump administration has many problems, the Biden administration must continue the previous administration’s policy of seeking to resolve the issue with North Korea through dialogue”.

Pew Global Indicators data show that in 2019, the support rate of South Koreans for Trump’s North Korea policy reached 78%.

“Despite doubts about Trump himself, his policy of engaging with North Korea is strongly supported by both parties,” said Steven Denney of the University of Vienna, who analyzed the data.

Terry of the Wilson Center said: “South Korea is a bit nostalgic for Trump’s extremist approach: conservatives missed his 2017’maximum pressure’ approach, and progressives missed the 2018-2019 summit.”

“Very few people have any feelings for President Trump. They are upset about the way he trades with South Korea. But there is a feeling that at least he has tried.”

Analysts say that hope that Trump will achieve a breakthrough may be illusory, but the Biden administration cannot simply hope that this problem disappears.

Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said: “They can’t keep saying,’We are not Trump, we are not Obama, we will meet anytime and anywhere.’ That’s not a policy, that’s a bumper sticker.”

Additional reporting by Jiang Fucheng

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