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Where to go from here?

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By Choi Sung-jin

Few words have been used more frequently than "sandwiched" to describe the diplomatic situation facing Korea, and South Korea in particular.

Historically, the Korean Peninsula was sandwiched between China and Japan for a long time. After Korea was liberated from the Japanese colonial rulers and divided into two, South Korea was sandwiched between the United States and the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, North Korea managed to effectively play the Soviet Union against China. After the Soviet bloc collapsed and China replaced Russia to emerge as the archrival of America, South Korea found itself sandwiched between Washington and Beijing.

Now, Seoul is sandwiched even between Pyongyang and Washington as it attempts to denuclearize the former in alliance with the latter. Should Korea remain a "sandwich state" for good surrounded by the world's four largest economic and/or military powers? Also, until when does Seoul have to be wary of Pyongyang, an economic pigmy, just because of the nuclear asymmetry?

Since the fruitless second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Hanoi nearly two months ago, the denuclearization process seems to have walked backward to almost two years ago.

North Korea has resumed testing conventional weapons while lashing out at two key U.S. players ― Mike Pompeo and John Bolton. The young, haughty North Korean leader also warned the South "not to remain as an officious mediator or facilitator but act as a party directly involved and protect Koreans' interests" ― i.e., follow Pyongyang. At the same time,........

© The Korea Times