Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) Director Gi-Wook Shin spoke with Yonhap News about the situation on the Korean Peninsula, following a visit to U.S. Pacific Command with a delegation of scholars from the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
While there, U.S. officials conveyed that the United States has the capability to strike North Korea should the president make that call.
U.S. officials said that North Korea had already moved into the “red zone,” and that the Trump administration has the view that it cannot miss a window of opportunity to stop the nuclear and missile program before it advances further.
Shin also said he believed that the Trump administration holds a view that the policy of “strategic patience” failed under the Obama administration, and that growing tensions on the Peninsula have compelled the Trump administration to consider – with greater plausibility – the option of a preemptive military strike.
Regional tensions have risen in the midst of impending political shifts in South Korea, where a new president will assume office following a snap election this May, and in China, where the Party Congress will meet to appoint new senior leadership of the Chinese Communist Party this fall.
Whoever becomes president in South Korea should place relations with North Korea at the top of the agenda and consider sending an envoy early on to meet its leader Kim Jong-un in-person, Shin said.