The Stimson Center’s Security for a New Century and 38 North Programs hosted a webinar to discussion: The Implications of the 2020 Election: Views From Seoul, with particular emphasis on the implications of the election and a future Biden administration for the US-ROK alliance and US-North Korean relations as well as emerging political trends within South Korea and the region in a context of changing US leadership.
The featured speakers offered a combination of senior-level South Korean government experience and analytical expertise and provided commentary on the most pressing issues facing the incoming Biden administration. They emphasized the imperative of addressing the North Korean nuclear issue in a timely and substantive manner, with a strong and united front, and by setting a clear pathway for denuclearization; sanctions relief should only come in later stages, after substantive progress and verification, but a declaration ending the Korean War could be used strategically as part of a larger roadmap. Relatedly, they stressed the need to normalize US-ROK alliance relations with a quick agreement on burden sharing, tighter cooperation in their approaches toward Pyongyang, and better mutual understanding about the strategic importance of the relationship in light of worsening US-China relations. It is very unlikely Seoul would ever choose Beijing over Washington, due to the existing security relationship and shared values, but Seoul’s distinct geopolitical and economic vulnerabilities make it difficult to overtly contend with China. Finally, the Biden and Moon administrations will face some difficulties but should work to align their respective timelines in coming months, including improved relations with Tokyo.