|Moon Chung-in, special adviser to President Moon Jae-in for foreign affairs and national security, speaks during a session of the Kor-Asia Forum 2020 focusing on new relations between North Korea and the United States under the upcoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden. The forum was held under the theme, "In the Era of Biden: The Future of Asia and the Korean Peninsula," at The Shilla Seoul hotel, Wednesday. Korea Times photo by Hong In-ki|
By Jung Da-min
Local and international experts shared their ideas on how South Korea should set its future diplomatic strategies and North Korea policy following the election of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. president, during the Kor-Asia Forum 2020, Wednesday.
The forum, co-hosted by The Korea Times and its sister paper the Hankook Ilbo, was held under the theme, "In the Era of Biden: The Future of Asia and the Korean Peninsula," at The Shilla Seoul hotel. While experts here attended the forum in person, those from the U.S., Japan and China participated online due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Discussions focused on how South Korea could better cooperate with its neighboring countries, and the U.S., to promote a peace process for the Korean Peninsula, while restoring its traditional alliance with Washington under the upcoming Biden administration. Participants agreed that Seoul is facing multiple challenges on the diplomatic front including facilitating denuclearization talks as a mediator between North Korea and the U.S. while balancing its relationships with America and China amid rising tensions stemming from their rivalry.
Moon Chung-in, special adviser to President Moon Jae-in for foreign affairs and national security, said he believes South Korea's role as a mediator could become bigger as the Biden administration draws up its diplomatic strategies, with Pyongyang having few channels to directly communicate with the new U.S. government. He said it would be easier for Pyongyang to talk to Seoul to connect with Washington.
"The leverage South Korea could take over Washington is similar to the one the country had between March and May 2018," the special advisor said. After the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic in February that year when a North Korean delegation led by leader Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong visited the South, President Moon and North Korean leader Kim held their first summit in April, followed by two more summits in May and September. The historic summit between North Korea and the U.S. was also held in June between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.
"South Korea should take the role of communicating with the North and deliver Pyongyang's messages to Washington to promote the North Korea-U.S. relations. The upcoming Biden administration will take note of Korean Peninsula issues when the Koreas are engaged in active communication and close cooperation in terms of deciding the destiny of the Korean Peninsula," he added.
Bob Woodward, associate editor of the Washington Post, Arthur Brooks, former president of the American Enterprise Institute, and Nicholas Burns, former under-secretary of state for political affairs, participated in the forum to share their perspectives from Washington.
Woodward said South Korea, the U.S., Japan and China would need to cooperate more in terms of their efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula as North Korea will not voluntarily give up its nuclear weapons. Brooks and Burns emphasized cooperation and the alliance between the U.S., South Korea and other Asian countries which share the values of democracy.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio said the leaders of South Korea and Japan need to make a political decision to solve the worsening ties between Seoul and Tokyo.
Zhu Feng, director of the Institute of International Relations at Nanjing University, said China needs to develop reciprocal relations with neighboring countries including South Korea.
The forum kicked off with a welcome message by Hankook Ilbo and The Korea Times Chairman Seung Myung-ho and congratulatory messages from distinguished guests including National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris.
Other experts who attended the forum for the afternoon sessions included Choi Byung-il, professor of International Studies at Ewha Womans University; Kim Joon-hyung, chancellor of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy; Rep. Cho Tae-yong of the main opposition People Power Party; Chun Chae-sung, professor of the department of political science and international relations at Seoul National University; and Kim Ji-yoon, doctor of political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.