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South Korean Influence Shrinks With North Korean Threat

2017-09-07

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[00:00.00]
  • North Korea’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons have frustrated hopes by South Korea to reduce tensions with the North through talks.
  • [00:11.49]
  • The nuclear activities have also affected South Korea’s relations with both the United States and China.
  • [00:22.56]
  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in May.
  • [00:27.50]
  • At the time, Moon said he wanted to balance contacts with sanctions to lower tensions on the Korean peninsula.
  • [00:38.56]
  • In comparison, U.S. President Donald Trump has supported using “maximum pressure” on North Korea through economic sanctions and the threat of military action.
  • [00:53.14]
  • Yet after the North’s nuclear test this week, conservatives in South Korea have been criticizing Moon’s call for talks.
  • [01:03.15]
  • President Trump also criticized the policy, calling it unworkable “appeasement.”
  • [01:10.38]
  • The Moon administration has attempted to play down differences with the United States over how to deal with the growing North Korean threat.
  • [01:21.63]
  • It says the two allies continue to support the idea of denuclearization.
  • [01:27.93]
  • But Moon has also come out strongly against taking any preventive military action against North Korea — one that could lead to war.
  • [01:40.79]
  • Bong Young-shik is with the Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul.
  • [01:48.86]
  • He says “President Trump might have felt frustration about a seemingly softer stance from the South Korean leadership, but at the same time the Trump administration also agrees that military options are way too risky.”
  • [02:05.76]
  • This week Moon seemed to take a stronger stance and one closer to the Trump administration’s position.
  • [02:15.03]
  • On Tuesday, he voiced support for new sanctions that would cut off the money North Korea earns from foreign currency income and oil supplies.
  • [02:27.01]
  • “If North Korea doesn't stop its provocations, we could face an unpredictable situation in the future,” Moon said.
  • [02:37.56]
  • He made the comment on Wednesday at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Vladivostok.
  • [02:47.22]
  • However, Russian and Chinese leaders might not support new sanctions that have proven to be ineffective in slowing North Korea’s nuclear missile development program.
  • [03:00.66]
  • Putin said North Koreans would “eat grass” rather than give in to outside pressure to disarm.
  • [03:08.97]
  • He called for talks to settle the crisis.
  • [03:13.14]
  • But the North Koreans said the nuclear tests will continue.
  • [03:19.67]
  • Han Tae Song, the North's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, noted Tuesday that more North Korean missiles and nuclear tests are planned.​
  • [03:33.56]
  • President Trump said over the weekend that he is considering withdrawing from the U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea.
  • [03:43.65]
  • That could also create a problem in the security alliance to oppose North Korea’s nuclear missile program.
  • [03:51.96]
  • Trump has repeatedly criticized the five-year-old FTA for creating a $27 billion U.S. trade deficit with South Korea last year.
  • [04:05.45]
  • The possibility of increased U.S. tariffs comes at the same time the Moon administration is facing Chinese criticism for deploying the American THAAD missile defense system.
  • [04:19.93]
  • China strongly objects to the radar system, calling it a threat to the country’s security.
  • [04:28.25]
  • China had reportedly ordered informal restrictions on some South Korean imports and travel as retaliation.
  • [04:37.77]
  • I’m Jonathan Evans.
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