With the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election heading into the tunnel of a court dispute, the result says that Democratic candidate Joe Biden is highly likely to win. Controversy will inevitably grow for some time as U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed complaints about mail ballots while publicly implying his will to bring the case to the court. However, it seems almost impossible for President Trump to reverse the outcome given that Joe Biden has already gained half the electorate votes in essence. Indeed, the high waves of change await the United States with the Biden administration coming soon.
Such an upcoming shift in Washington automatically translates into a fundamental change to its policy toward the Korean Peninsula. What is already too obvious is that Seoul should not have high expectations about a top-down approach to the U.S.-North Korea dialogue given that Joe Biden calls North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a tyrant. In the event that Pyongyang refuses to pursue complete denuclearization and human rights improvements, Washington under Biden will only favor greater pressure and sanctions, which in turn leads to a higher likelihood of the North's provocations.
Some ruling party figures in South Korea take an optimistic view for their own convenience too hastily while depicting the Biden-led administration as the third-term of the Clinton administration. Nevertheless, there is a marked difference in views of nuclear issues and their solutions taken by the Clinton administration in the early 2000s when Pyongyang's nuclear program took baby steps and the current U.S. Democratic Party, which recognizes the gravity of the matter. Although the dialogue between Seoul and Washington will go more smoothly when it comes to defense cost sharing, Biden's stance against Beijing, which is as strong as President Trump's, will push Seoul at a crossroads once again.
The transfer of power in the United States has often come with a tumult across the Korean Peninsula. Even with the election result not yet confirmed, the South Korean government should use every channel and connection at its disposal, whether formal or behind-the-scenes, to nimbly grasp what the upcoming U.S. administration has in mind. Then, Seoul should tune its strategies regarding U.S.-R.O.K. alliance and North Korea policy delicately and in secret based on such swift moves, without which it is too early to express optimism for the convenience of its own while carelessly referring to the third term of the Clinton administration.