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North Korea’s Missed Opportunity: The Unique, Dovish Moment of the Overlapping Trump and Moon Presidencies 상세보기 화면
TITLE North Korea’s Missed Opportunity: The Unique, Dovish Moment of the Overlapping Trump and Moon Presidencies
AUTHOR Robert E. Kelly and Arius M. Derr
Year 2021
Date March
Attached File
Keyword North Korea, South Korea, Donald Trump, Moon Jae-in, United States, Summit, Korean domestic politics
DOI https://doi.org/10.22883/kjda.2021.33.1.002

This paper argues that North Korea’s unwillingness to seriously negotiate during the 2018-2020 period of dovish outreach by American President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will return the North Korea policy debate to the pre-Trump status quo of containment, deterrence, sanction, and isolation, while also opening that debate to more hawkish options. North Korea failed to grasp a historically unprecedented three-year window of two overlapping dovish presidents governing its primary geopolitical opponents. Trump and Moon both aggressively sought a major inter-Korean breakthrough; they represented a unique opportunity in the long Korean stand-off for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to press his peninsular claims. Yet Pyongyang offered no serious concessions in the 2018-2020 window, and the politico-military situation on the ground in Korea is essentially unchanged today. We argue that this failure will, at minimum, encourage the reemergence of establishmentarian, status quo policies under the new American administration of President Joseph Biden. Further, North Korea’s recalcitrance in this unique dovish period will likely push the “Overton Window” of acceptable counter-North Korea policy options rightward. Harsher measures will be considered in the wake of engagement’s failure.

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