Anthony Spaeth is Editor in Chief at South Korea’s JoongAng Daily.

NYR DAILY

Aiming for a Nuke-Free Korea: Bold Diplomacy or Dangerous Delusion?

A South Korean soldier passing giant TV screen images of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Seoul, South Korea, on March 9, 2018

How the wildly unpredictable Trump administration might handle a proposal to fundamentally alter the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia after sixty-five years is impossible to fathom—especially if it is one that calls for the expulsion of 23,000 American troops to assuage the leader of history’s only Communist dynasty. What seems very likely is that Trump’s particular American brand of conservatism, now bolstered by the appointment of hard-liners—Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser—will collide with the liberal ideology of Moon Jae-in and his Korean allies.

South Korea’s Real Fear

News of North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile on a television screen at a railway station in Seoul, July 4, 2017

The primary worry in South Korea has not been its bizarre and militaristic neighbor to the north; most Koreans are by now long used to living within close firing range of Pyongyang and do not think it will attack unless provoked. What really worries them is that the new US president doesn’t know the complexity of the situation—and is too contemptuous of the State Department to be instructed.