Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

The U.S. needs to talk to North Korea any way it can

By Doug Bandow

26 Apr 2023 · 7 min read

Editor's Note

The U.S. and South Korea need to develop a new strategy for engagement with the North, according to Foreign Policy. It won't be easy, but something has to be done before any chance is gone for good.

U.S. relations with South Korea couldn’t be better. Alas, relations with North Korea could hardly be worse. The Biden administration is celebrating the former with a state visit by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. In contrast, the administration has nothing to say to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who refuses to engage with the United States.

As a result, even a triumphant summit with Yoon is, at best, a hollow victory for Washington. U.S. relations with the South are not in doubt. Although Washington and Seoul sometimes disagree on strategy toward the North, even left-leaning South Korean presidents, such as the redoubtable Kim Dae-jung, have been committed to the alliance. In contrast, North Korea is increasingly acquiring the means to challenge the U.S. security commitment to the South.

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