Autore: Marco Milani
In: Asia Maior. XXX / 2019

Despite very high expectations for the Korean peninsula, the disappointing outcome of the summit between Kim Jong Un and Trump in Hanoi led to a progressive deterioration of the relations on the peninsula and also in the region. In South Korea, President Moon Jae-in had to struggle with a falling approval rating, mostly related to the disappointing economic results, especially in terms of economic growth and unemployment rate. This situation increased the opposition to the president from the conservative part which resulted in a re-emergence of a strong political and social polarization in the country. In North Korea, Kim Jong Un consolidated his position through a reshuffle of several key roles in the leadership. At the same time, the disappearance of any short-term possibility of sanctions relief led to a new emphasis on self-reliant economic development. For what concerns relations on the peninsula, the North Korean leadership made clear that it was not interested in continuing dialogue with the South unless Seoul was ready to pursue economic cooperation despite the existing sanctions. As for relations between Washington and Pyongyang, dialogue stalled but Trump and Kim refrained from direct personal attacks and maintained a positive personal relation. These developments pushed North Korea towards its traditional partners, China and Russia. As for South Korea, practical disagreements over defence costs with the US and historical controversies with Japan further complicated the situation also with its main ally and partner.

Marco Milani | University of Sheffield |