South Korean President Moon Jae-in condemned previous President Trump’s endeavors to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, telling the New York Times he “set out to avoid the real issue” with North Korea and “neglected to get it through.”
Why it is important: Moon, presently in his last year in office, considered denuclearization a “matter of endurance” for South Korea and asked President Biden to continue exchanges with North Korean pioneer Kim Jong-un after a halt of almost two years.
What they’re saying: “I hope that Biden will go down as a historic president that has achieved substantive and irreversible progress for the complete denuclearization and peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon told the Times.
“He beat around the bush and failed to pull it through,” he said of Trump. “The most important starting point for both governments is to have the will for dialogue and to sit down face to face at an early date.”
Moon also called on the U.S. to cooperate with China on North Korea and other issues, warning that if “tensions between the United States and China intensify, North Korea can take advantage of it and capitalize on it.”
Context: Talks between the U.S. and North Korea and unprecedented engagement between Trump and Kim quickly soured after the two countries couldn’t reach a substantive agreement on denuclearization and drawing down sanctions.
After Biden assumed office, North Korean quickly rebuffed his attempts to restart negotiations and warned the U.S. to “refrain from causing a stink” if “it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years.”
North Korea also conducted its first major weapons test since Biden took office in March by firing two ballistic missiles into the East Sea.