Less than two months into the job, South Korea’s Moon Jae-in will visit the White House today for a two-day summit with President Donald Trump. Unsurprisingly, discussions on how to deal with North Korean provocations will top the agenda.
Since coming to office last month, Moon has made it clear that he doesn’t share his predecessor’s hard-line stance on the North. Instead, he’s opted to pursue the so-called ‘sunshine policy’, suspending the deployment of the US-built THAAD missile defence system on June 7.
The move was lauded by China, which believes the system would give the US a crucial edge in any future conflict. Washington, on the other hand, was less impressed.
Today’s summit will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to smooth over their differences, at least in a narrow sense. As a progressive former human rights lawyer and proponent of stronger ties with Beijing, Moon and Trump are unlikely to see eye-to-eye on everything. Nonetheless, comments by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Monday confirmed that Moon will make good on the THAAD deal after conducting a domestic review designed to shore up domestic support for the program.