Politics Explained

How does Joe Biden solve a problem like North Korea?

The latest White House incumbent faces a similar task to his predecessor, but his style of diplomacy is very different, writes Chris Stevenson

Sunday 22 May 2022 21:30
<p>Joe Biden speaking yesterday in Seoul, South Korea </p>

Joe Biden speaking yesterday in Seoul, South Korea

Former president Donald Trump had quite a diplomatic relationship with Kim Jong-un.

“He’s got a great personality. He’s a funny guy. He’s very smart. He’s a great negotiator. He loves his people,” Trump said of the North Korean leader in 2018 – having previously called Kim “rocket man” and threatened “fire and fury” in response to threats from Pyongyang in 2017. Two meetings in person in 2018 (after which Trump gave the quote above) and 2019 were touted by the 45th president as a great diplomatic success.

The difference between Trump and the current White House incumbent, Joe Biden, over North Korea has been clear during Biden’s first trip to Asia as president. Before leaving Seoul, South Korea for Japan on Sunday, Biden had one simple message for his North Korean counterpart: “Hello... period.” Biden’s trip has mostly been about economic matters and countering the influence of China, but the recent actions of Pyongyang have lingered in the background. North Korea has conducted a number of weapons tests since the start of the year, and the US has been monitoring for a potential underground nuclear test, which would be the first since 2017.

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