By Tim Beal, published by The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Aug 15, 2017. (Also appearing on Zoom In Korea, in three parts. Part one here.)
Observing Moon Jae-in win the election on May 7, 2017, take up the presidency of the Republic of Korea, and move on to a summit with President Trump [June 29] has been like watching a movie where the action is put into slow motion to emphasize the inevitability of the disaster to come. The [movie] hero may gesticulate, but he is essentially powerless and the plot flows through to the inexorable denouement. Things have come to this pass because the hero, for whatever reason, has made some fatal mistake and has not sought to extricate himself. He is doomed to a fate over which he has no control.
So too with Moon Jae-in.
His fundamental mistake was to not recognise, acknowledge, and analyse South Korea’s geopolitical situation, especially its relationship with the United States. He not merely did not challenge South Korea’s servile status but seemed actively to embrace it. The decisions that were informed by that failure, and his policy towards the U.S., China and the other Korea – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – mean that his administration is doomed at best to irrelevance, and at worst to being party to a catastrophic war. His summit with President Trump and his vacillating stand on issues such as the U.S. Operational Control of the ROK military and the deployment of THAAD illustrate his precipitate decline from a candidate with promise to a president rapidly becoming a spent force. Reports of plans to establish a new political party may be a bellwether indicating mounting disillusionment with him.
Although the discussion here, for brevity, focusses on Moon Jae-in as an individual, it should be remembered that he represents a large and, at the moment, dominant segment of the liberal political elite, as well as the aspirations of many, perhaps most, South Koreans. Nor, for reasons of focus, will much be said about the policies of the other main actors – North Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States…
Read the full article at the original weblink above, app. 11,000 words.
Retired New Zealand-based academic Tim Beal has written two books and numerous articles on Korean issues and U.S. global policy. He is an Asia-Pacific Journal contributing editor and writes for ‘NK News’ and Zoom in Korea, amongst others. He maintains the website Asian Geopolitics.
* How North Korea outmaneuvered U.S., by Daniel Lazare, Consortium News, Sept 14, 2017
* Massacre in Korea, painted by Pablo Picasso in 1951 (more on the history of the painting, in Wikipedia)