The protracted US presidential election has come to an end. After Biden announced his winning on November 8, the ROK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Unification began to study the new administration’s policy regarding the Korean peninsula. ROK media analyzed that the Biden administration would adjust its policy toward the peninsula drastically.
According to their analysis, the Biden administration, on the principle of “maintaining close consultation based on the ROK-US alliance”, will pay attention to ROK’s DPRK policy. ROK foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha didn’t think Biden would continue the Obama administration's DPRK policy even though he might use the think tank of that period.
In a phone call with Moon Jae-in on November 12, Biden said ROK is a key player in the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, and the US will continue to fulfill its defense commitments to the country. He also expressed his expectation for the two countries to work more closely in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety, climate change, and Indo-Pacific peace and prosperity.
The Dong-A Ilbo, literally East Asia Daily, one of the ROK's major daily newspapers, claimed in its editorial published on November 13 that Biden and Moon Jae-in had disagreements during their phone conservation as the former is focused on intensifying the ROK-US alliance while the latter is more concerned about the denuclearization and peace process of the Korean peninsula.
According to the Dong-A Ilbo, the ROK government and ruling party have always given priority to the relationship between the ROK and the DPRK on denuclearization issue. ROK foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha proposed to put the DPRK-US dialogue high on the agenda of ROK and US leaders during her US trip. According to ROK’s conservative media, the ROK government and the Biden administration don’t see eye to eye on the DPRK policy and the consolidation of the ROK-US alliance.
An article titled “The fate of the Korean Peninsular should be decided by Koreans,” published by ROK’s The Hankyoreh, said there is no telling what Biden is going to do or how he will do it at this moment. Still, the Korean peninsula is not his priority anyway.
As a matter of fact, there is a fundamental divide in the national interests between the US and the ROK. Washington is pressing Pyongyang so hard to give up the nuclear program, not for the peninsula’s stability, but to reduce the threats to its military presence on the peninsula. The US doesn’t want the peninsula to be stable because its military presence there would become meaningless if the peninsular peace process is advanced and cooperation between the ROK and the DPRK is intensified. What Washington is really concerned with is how to control the ROK with the DPRK as an excuse, step in the peninsular situation, and steer it to serve America’s national interests.
The ROK, on the other hand, will only achieve real development when the peninsula enjoys stabilty and South-North cooperation advances.