The upcoming meeting between President Moon Jae-In and President Donald Trump to be held on April 11, 2019 is attracting interest from every country as they wonder what breakthroughs will be made in the North Korean denuclearization negotiations, which have recently come to a standstill.* This is because the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi at the end of February ended inconclusively.
The goal of the April meeting is twofold. A main issue is preparing a cooperative plan for the successful conclusion of negotiations between North Korea and the United States once talks resume. In America, the critical sentiment that Moon and his government care more about their relations with North Korea than they do about denuclearization is spreading not only through the Trump administration but also through Congress and various think tanks. President Moon’s role in this meeting is an important reason. Another goal is to dispel rumors swirling about tensions within South Korea’s alliance with the United States. Such verification that the alliance is, in fact, running smoothly is important for a quick solution to denuclearization but is even more important to ensure the peace and security of northeastern Asia.
In addition, this meeting is an opportunity to normalize South Korea’s convoluted foreign policy. The fact that Korea is growing increasingly farther from the United States and has already become worryingly estranged from Japan is seen from all corners of the globe. On top of that, Korea doesn’t even have a close relationship with China. It is difficult when a country whose growth is indebted to the expansion of global free trade harms its national security by becoming an ‘odd one out.’
The beginning of Korea’s diplomatic normalization must be the firm restoration of liberal democracy and the free market. If cooperation with its allies is the starting point of the meeting between South Korea and the United States, Korea’s main focus becomes clear. It was only possible for our nation to step past the ravages of war and into the position of a world economic power through adopting and protecting capitalism and a market economy while also promoting peoples’ individuality and ambition.
South Korea’s former capitalist allies, including the United States and Japan, are now drifting away, and in some cases, are even beginning to show animosity. This is comparable to the controversy over Korea’s submissive attitude in its diplomacy toward China, which has yet to achieve any results. Reaffirming the alliance between Korea and the United States will also greatly help denuclearization efforts. This is also the value and base upon which efforts to aid and develop North Korea after denuclearization in the future will be built.
*Editor’s note: This article was published prior to the meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump in Washington on April 11, 2019. The editors feel that the opinions expressed by the author are still relevant.