Jihwan Hwang, a professor at the University of Seoul, predicts that the strengthening alliance between North Korea, China, and Russia could enable North Korea to overcome its international isolation, weakening the influence of the US-South Korea alliance and increasing China’s leverage over the Korean Peninsula. Dr. Hwang points out that even without the establishment of a new Cold War order, the strengthened cooperation among the authoritarian regimes will pose a significant strategic challenge to South Korea. As Seoul’s approach to Pyongyang has been based on a unipolar system led by Washington, Dr. Hwang highlights the need for South Korea to explore new approaches to address the changing security environment.
Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Alliance, and Russia-Ukraine War
Russia, China, Ukraine, Asia, South Korea, and North Korea
Hyun-wook Kim, Professor at Korean National Diplomatic Academy, assesses that North Korea is advocating a new Cold War discourse to strengthen its strategic solidarity with China. However, the intensified Cold War dynamic would lead the United States to prioritize its strategic competition with China, and the Biden administration should turn to a more passive approach toward North Korea. In this context, Dr. Kim anticipates that Washington would not offer incentives to Pyongyang for engaging in dialogue, which would lead Pyongyang to continue its military provocations to influence the direction of Washington’s policy course and gain recognition as a nuclear power. Given the volatility of the situation, Dr. Kim emphasizes the importance of reaffirming the ROK-US military alliance to counter the escalating crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
Cold War, International Cooperation, Deterrence, Strategic Competition, and Russia-Ukraine War
China, Asia, North Korea, North America, and United States of America
Kyung-Joo Jeon, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, predicts that the Korean peninsula might repeat the days of fire and fury in 2017 this year. North Korea will likely turn to its military provocation tactics ahead of the ROK-US Freedom Shield Exercises in mid-March, DPRK’s 70th Anniversary of The Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War in July, and another ROK-US joint military drill in August. Dr. Jeon suggests that Seoul should increase its strategic value as an essential global player while Washington seeks a stronger alliance network in the Indo-Pacific region if South Korea wants to live up to its policy goal of the “Global Pivotal State.”
Security, Defense Policy, Deterrence, and Denuclearization
Dong Ryul Lee, Chair of the China Research Center at EAI (Professor at Dongduk Women’s University), highlights that although China and North Korea might seem to have a close relationship, Beijing maintains a reserved stance regarding the North’s perspective on its strategic value amid the US-China competition. Professor Lee explains that Xi Jinping prioritizes political stability by boosting the economy and tries to avoid a full-scale confrontation with the US. Accordingly, China seeks to manage the risk spurred on by Pyongyang’s military provocations, given that they legitimize stronger US-Japan-ROK trilateral security cooperation.
International Relations, Security, Cold War, Xi Jinping, and Strategic Competition