Over the last 2 years, the world has been experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic and the Korean peninsula is no exception. During the pandemic, it is difficult to predict what would happen in the future despite the government and scientists’ efforts to prevent the virus from spreading. In this article, we’ll be discussing a couple of hot social issues that are happening in the Korean Peninsula this January 2022.
The Biden Administration on North Korea’s Policy
When U.S. President Joe Biden takes office later this month, he will face the North Korea issue that has plagued U.S. presidents since the 1990s. Although North Korea has not conducted a nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test since 2017, its nuclear arsenal remains as strong as ever, posing a serious and unpredictable threat to the United States and its allies. While the details of the Biden administration’s North Korea policy are expected to be ironed out in the coming months, Biden’s role as U.S. senator and vice president stands in stark contrast to President Trump’s unorthodox personal contacts with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
A wealth of experience may require traditional diplomacy. Biden himself called Trump’s meeting with Kim a “vanity project,” and one Biden adviser, referring to the many flattering messages sent between Trump and Kim, said in a letter, ” The era of love letters will end.” Biden was open to continuing to use U.S. sanctions and expressed his commitment to North Korea’s denuclearization. Biden’s emphasis on restoring trust in the alliance also signaled his preference for a multilateral approach to North Korea, which differs from Trump’s preference for direct bilateral talks.
Can South Korea-Japan relations be improved?
Relations between South Korea and Japan have soured rapidly since 2018 as historical and trade issues undermined past attempts at resolution. Last October 2018, the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that Japan compensated South Korea for wartime forced labor sparked controversy, including Japan’s 2019 decision to remove South Korea from a “white list” of preferential trading partners and to end negotiations with South Korea and the Ministry of Security — a regional sharing agreement. The diplomatic standoff between the two countries is of particular concern to the United States, as both countries are allies and often cooperate on trilateral issues. With recent political changes in the region, including Yoshihide Suga’s inauguration as Japan’s new prime minister, and the incoming Biden administration’s focus on restoring trust in the alliance, there is cautious optimism that South Korea-Japan relations could improve in 2021.
In recent months, a series of diplomatic proposals have been introduced one after another, including Yoshihide Suga’s meeting with the South Korean legislative delegation, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s appointment of Kang Chang-il, the former Speaker of the Korean Parliament, as ambassador to Japan. Show that the two countries are more willing to repair relations. However, underlying historical and trust issues still remain, requiring further action by both countries to set their differences aside.