This paper analyzes the North Korea policy of the Moon Jae-In government and the Trump administration and explores conflicts between the two resulting from differences of opinion on how to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. It also provides policy options to solve this problem.
The Moon government and the Trump administration agree that North Korea must denuclearize but they have different views on how to achieve this goal. The Moon government tries to improve inter-Korean relations and solve the North Korean nuclear issue in parallel, while the Trump administration maintains the principle of ‘denuclearization first and compensation later,’ and argues that North-South exchanges such as economic support before denuclearization will prevent North Korea from giving up its nuclear weapons.
The US government is concerned about the pro-China attitude of the Moon government, in particular the ‘3 noes’ policy (no additional THAAD deployments, no participation in a regional missile defense system, and no military alliance with the US and Japan). The United States has also complained about the establishment of a no-fly zone in military agreements adopted by the Pyongyang Declaration. These are causing conflict between the two countries as they work to denuclearize North Korea.
To solve this conflict, we should first create a ‘roadmap’ for North Korea’s nuclear dismantlement based on close cooperation with the United States. We should strive for complete denuclearization through strengthening the alliance with the US. Second, the ROK should clarify its relationship with China. It is not desirable for the Korean government to ‘balance diplomacy’ between China and the US. Third, it is urgent to improve relations with Japan. Establishment of close military cooperation among Korea, the US and Japan is very important not only to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, but also to check China’s pressure. Fourth, we should establish friendly relations with Russia by strengthening economic cooperation, attracting Moscow to the ROK’s side by actively importing oil and natural gas from Russia.