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What the Next South Korean President Can Learn From Moon’s Diplomatic Challenge

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Last month, Time Magazine released a cover photo of its July edition, featuring a photo of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. The title of the issue was announced to be “The Final Offer: South Korea’s Moon Jae-In Makes the Last Push for Peace with North Korea.”

Time also posted an online article describing the interview it conducted with Moon in June. Describing four years of Moon’s diplomatic efforts to negotiate peace and denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula, the article highlights the chronology of optimistic anticipation followed by disappointing setbacks and challenges, with the South Korean president engaging in a final effort to advance substantial diplomatic progress before the end of his presidential term next spring. The article then ends with a sobering reflection: “Moon’s True Legacy” might be a “grim realization that if he could not fix things, perhaps nobody can.”

Indeed, future South Korea presidents will likely face a similar diplomatic challenge as Moon has in achieving North Korea’s denuclearization. To make progress, South Korea must convince not one but four relevant actors to get on board. The challenge can be broken down into four separate statements Seoul will need to “sell” to its partners.

Convince the United States: “All foreign policy issues matter, but the North Korea issue urgently matters.”

Even setting aside controversial domestic politics, the U.S. government currently faces multiple foreign policy issues. Why should Washington prioritize North Korea when multiple global actors are urging the U.S. to instead focus on – to give just a........

© The Diplomat

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