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The impact of U.S. presidential election result on Korean Peninsula

The impact of U.S. presidential election result on Korean Peninsula

Posted November. 04, 2020 07:41,   

Updated November. 04, 2020 07:41


The South Korean government has formed a task force to prepare for the U.S. presidential election result that could shake the diplomatic situation on the Korean Peninsula. If President Trump is re-elected, denuclearization talks between the heads of the U.S. and North Korea are likely to resume but at the same time the South Korea-U.S. alliance can be put to test once again. If Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins the election, the ROK-U.S. relations could be stabilized, bringing a breakthrough in deadlocked defense cost-sharing talks but there are little prospects for a surprise U.S.-North Korea summit.

“We are bracing for various scenarios for the election result through task force meetings,” said an official at the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With the lead of a task force of 25 officials from the North America Division and the Task Force on the North Korean Nuclear Issue, the South Korean authorities have been analyzing the impact of the U.S. presidential election since August. The government will prepare a congratulatory message for Joe Biden while planning to resume dialogue with the Trump administration via diplomatic channels in case Trump wins.

If Biden is elected, he is likely to opt for a bottom-up approach that discusses denuclearization through working-level talks, instead of Trump’s extreme top-down approach. This is why the South Korean government will need to make major changes to its North Korean policies, which have relied on Trump’s improvised policy decisions. If Biden takes office, a U.S.-North Korea summit will be possible only when the U.S. has a clear vision for denuclearization through working-level negotiations with North Korea. On the other hand, if Trump wins re-election, Seoul will begin its efforts to make a breakthrough in deadlocked U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks, using the 2021 Tokyo Olympics as a platform.

Gi-Jae Han record@donga.com