Moon Receives “Frosty” Reception in First Meeting with Trump

By Sung-Yoon Lee

Sung-Yoon Lee, is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies, and assistant professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He is a former Research Fellow with the National Asia Research Program, a joint initiative the National Bureau of Asia Research and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and associate in research at the Korea Institute at Harvard University.

The Trump Administration has made the North Korean nuclear and missile threats a national security priority and has called on its regional allies to bring additional pressure on North Korea to bring it back to negotiations. At the recent summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in June 29 and 30, Trump emphasized his commitment to a new, proactive approach to North Korea in a White House Rose Garden press conference. “We’re working closely with South Korea and Japan, as well as partners around the world, on a range of diplomatic, security and economic measures to protect our allies and our own citizens from this menace known as North Korea,” he said. Although North Korea remains a top priority in the U.S.-South Korea bilateral relationship, disagreements over trade, the controversial THAAD missile defense system, and basing U.S. troops in South Korea could undermine cooperation. The Cipher Brief’s Will Edwards spoke to Sung-yoon Lee, a professor at the Fletcher School for International Affairs at Tufts University to learn more about the first meeting between Trump and Moon.

The Cipher Brief: Broadly speaking, the U.S. and South Korea have the same goal for North Korea, denuclearization, and have outlined a phased approach. Can you describe this phased approach and highlight any differences or sticking points in either the South Korean or U.S. position in pursuing this goal?

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