It’s pretty clear that the US is testing the patience of the DPRK with their latest actions. First, US President Donald Trump cancels the peace negotiations, then turns around two days later and says they can still happen. Before he could, the DPRK announced that they were still willing to negotiate despite Trump’s cancellation. The actions of the US seem erratic and without being a part of a greater plan. The only effect these acts have is aggravating the DPRK and angering the South Korean population.
According to one report, the South Korean President Moon Jae-in was not made aware of Trump’s cancellation ahead of time. The story goes that he found out about it like everyone else did, on the news. This has caused Moon not on frustration but served him some disrespect by not even being informed it. It’s bad enough that the talks were cancelled for no good reason, but then to treat Moon as though he wasn’t an important part of the whole situation is a tremendous insult.
What will be most aggravating for the DPRK is the fact that this cancellation comes immediately after they lived up to their end of the pre-agreement. US prisoners were released back to the US, and the nuclear test site was demolished before the eyes of the international media as they had promised it would be. Trump is acting wholly in poor faith. This sends the message that the DPRK that they can’t trust the US.
Trump is basically telling the world and the South Korean population that their opinion and involvement in their own peace negotiations don’t matter. Essentially this has always been true, the South has been a client state of the US via imperialism. However, they’ve always tried to maintain a veneer of South Korean independence.
That veneer is important for US-South Korean relations. There is already anti-American sentiment growing in the country day-by-day. These actions by Trump are exacerbating that trend. For the US who wishes to keep the South under their control, this is an irresponsible move. The kind of move we’ve come to expect from the leadership of Donald Trump.
Some have suggested that the US is playing hardball with the DPRK. They’re deliberately doing aggravating things in order to make the DPRK wait, make them have to put up with the US in order to bolster their image. The idea is that the DPRK will be seen as a weak by having to wait around for the US to pay the proper attention to the matter. Such a move is very dangerous. It is not dangerous in the way that one might think. The DPRK is not on the verge of sending a nuclear missile towards the US. The danger is in losing US control of the South.
As I previously mentioned, there’s a great anti-American sentiment moving across the South. Already polls show that the South’s population blame the US for the breakdown and delays in the peace talks. At the same time, a poll done in the South shows that 78% of Koreans think Kim Jong Un is trustworthy. The US’s actions are driving a wedge between themselves and the South. This will only end up pushing them towards the DPRK.
As it stands, Moon Jae-in won the presidency on the unification ticket. He has tremendous public support. He’s got a 78.3% approval rating, the highest of any South Korean president a year after their election. This will allow him to take actions that might have been previously considered impossible. Also note: Moon’s top advisor did time in prison for supporting the North. He also opposes the US occupation of the country.
We could very well be looking at the South openly opposing US occupation and seeking more relations with the North as a replacement. That is what is significant here. The actions of the US have only undermined their relationship with the South. Where that ends up, is the responsibility of the South Korean people.