Time to chill

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Time to chill

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden defined the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran as a “serious threat to America’s security and world security.” He declared he would “work closely with our allies to address the threats posed by both of these countries through diplomacy and stern deterrence.”

Biden’s remarks sharply contrast with what President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday to mark the third anniversary of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. “The time to resume the dialogue [with North Korea] is coming. I want to find ways to make progress on the Korean Peninsula Peace Process by cooperating with the Biden administration,” said the president. The leaders of South Korea and the U.S. are to have their first meeting at the White House in May. And yet, Moon keeps making worrisome comments about the decades-old alliance, denuclearization of North Korea and Covid-19 vaccines with just a month left before the summit.

In a Blue House meeting Monday, Moon criticized vaccine developing nations for “vaccine nationalism” and “hoarding,” targeting the United States, the producer of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

In an earlier interview with the New York Times, Moon said that a scrapping of the 2018 U.S.-North agreement in Singapore would be a mistake. Biden called the Singapore deal between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un a “failure.” In a videoconference for the Boao Forum for Asia hosted by China Tuesday, Moon made comments praising China for its vaccine donations to the rest of the world and comments suggesting that South Korea would take Beijing’s side in the ongoing tech war between the United States and China.

Such remarks seem to be aimed at reflecting his government’s position on the North Korea policy the Biden administration will release next month. Such negotiations should be conducted by his subordinates, not the commander in chief. If a head of state makes demands to an ally in a one-sided manner, it does not work. Instead, it only helps increase the possibility of a collapse of the upcoming summit.

Many serious challenges await the two leaders, including how to solve the North Korean nuclear conundrum and whether South Korea has the will to improve relations with Japan. Moon needs Biden’s cooperation in addressing Korea’s vaccine shortages and fixing Korea’s position on the Sino-U.S. semiconductor war. If he continues making comments guaranteed to annoy the Biden administration, it will only worsen the situation. Moon must chill out, and find ways to promote our national interest through the summit.
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