Biden, Trump and Moon: Prospects for the US-South Korea Relationship post-2020

By Linde Desmaele

If South Korea could cast a vote in the US presidential election, who would it support? From President Moon Jae-in’s perspective, three issues promise to be particularly relevant for the US-ROK relationship going forward: Credible deterrence against a potential North Korean aggression, the process of inter-Korean reconciliation and the evolution of Sino-American rivalry in East Asia. Attempts to forecast Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s respective Korean strategies in too much detail should surely be taken with a grain of salt. But the candidates’ track record and campaign rhetoric can still serve as a useful starting point for predicting some of the broader contours in this regard. Overall, a Biden presidency is Seoul’s safest bet. Friction will continue between the two countries, and North Korea remains a major wild card. Nonetheless, if Biden wins, expect the Blue House to breathe a sigh of relief.

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