A Different Focus on the Korean Peninsula

Right after the meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore, US President Donald Trump announced an intermission of the joint military exercises between the US and South Korea for the time being. This has especially astonished US allied nations and maybe China and Russia, too. He also referred to a potential withdrawal of the US troops from South Korea. Since the joint statement was vague and no clear path to disarmament was noted, skepticism and criticism have aroused. It seems that South and North Korea would unify and the whole Korean peninsula could get under China’s control after the withdrawal of the US troops.

If both Koreas conclude a peace agreement and officially finish the Korean War, they would unify and build one Korea nation. One question are the existing security agreements – mutual defense treaties – between South Korea and the US and between North Korea and China respectively. It might also be possible, therefore, that a united Korea could come closer to the US rather than to China as Vietnam currently does.

North Korea’s drive to become a nuclear power might not only be to defend from the US military power and eventually normalize its relationship with the US but also to control South Korea. The latter could have been the initial aim. After North Korea achieves this initial purpose, a range of options or alternatives could be pursued. China is not the only one to consider. To contain the Soviet Union, the US became committed for China, an altogether unexpected strategy. The US trade conflicts with China and China’s expansion politics in the South China Sea have come to the fore in Trump’s administration. Hence, it would also be possible that the US support a united Korea to contain China. Both South and North Korea already have strong armed forces although North Korea’s military needs to be modernized. Therefore, no US troops need to be stationed on the Korean peninsula.

Just one thing is clear after the summit meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore, namely, that a strong anti-Japan country possibly appears very soon. As Trump already mentioned, Japan will massively support North Korea financially after North Korea’s denuclearization has been confirmed and all still living Japanese abducted by North Korea have been repatriated. It is very ridiculous and ironical to support a potential anti-Japan country, but the homecoming of these Japanese abductees (reportedly more than 100 people but merely five have been returned so far) is the top priority matter to Japan concerning North Korea.

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