U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Sung Kim said on Friday that U.S. State Secretary Tony Blinken plans to share a new U.S. policy toward North Korea, which is currently under review, with South Korea and Japan and exchange opinions with them, expecting that it will be fully reviewed within the next several weeks. His message seemingly intends to say that the U.S. state and defense secretaries will propose an outlined new North Korea policy, which seems to be in the final stage, during their visit to Seoul and Tokyo this week. It has been reported that Pyongyang has not responded since Washington started its efforts to interact behind the scenes last month.
As per Kim's remarks, it can be expected that the Biden administration will swiftly provide a blueprint for its policy toward Pyongyang just two months after its inauguration. It has not gone into detail but confirmed its principled direction that its efforts to redefine a policy will be accompanied by close cooperation with its allies. By making sure that all sorts of rumors, observations and input do not pour out of everywhere, the Biden administration in its early days differentiates itself from its predecessors. Indeed, it all comes down to U.S. President Joe Biden's special emphasis on multilateral cooperation with its allies.
Notably, the Biden administration has attempted to have behind-the-scenes contact with the North Korean regime before releasing a new policy note. Before it sets a fundamental policy direction, Washington seems to be intent on grasping Pyongyang's intentions and next steps to take while preventing it from carrying out customary provocations around the time of power of transfer in Washington. In this regard, President Biden's approach is in stark contrast to former President Donald Trump’s response based on unilateralism and spontaneously staged events.
In response, Pyongyang has still stayed silent despite Washington's moves. Since late 2019 when the two nations had working-level negotiations in Stockholm, Pyongyang has not engaged in dialogue anymore. Added to this, since last year, the North has ruptured the inter-Korean relations, isolating itself from the external world. The calculus that it may use is to leave the door open for going back to a cycle that starts with provocation while remaining on the lookout for any chance to take action. It may want to escalate tensions around the Korean Peninsula and strengthen its bargaining power at the negotiating table.
Having said that, it should be well-noted that the Biden administration is filled with experts and specialists who are keen-eyed about anything that looks like a trigger that opens up a Pyongyang-plotted scenario. It is determined not to repeat the Obama administration's "strategic patience” strategy that ended up with callousness and negligence. To that end, it is gearing up to take a carrot-and-stick strategy of seeking solutions based on dialogue while besieging and pressuring the regime. Given this, any provocation on Pyongyang's side automatically leads to the horrendously highest level of pain and suffering.