Moon Jae-in’s Olympic Realpolitik
After a year in which many countries questioned whether it would even be safe to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has served his country well. He has both neutralized the threat of North Korean disruption to the Games and kept a thin-skinned US president firmly on his side.
SEOUL – South Korean President Moon Jae-in has made a good start to the New Year. Not only did he broker an agreement to bring North Korea to the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang; he also convinced US President Donald Trump that doing so was in fact Trump’s idea.
With his Olympic coup, Moon has both managed the North Korean threat to the Games and avoided any backlash from the United States. Still, the agreement that North and South Korea reached in the border village of Panmunjom earlier this month is unlikely to lead to renewed nuclear-disarmament talks.
Rather, once the Games are over, the North will likely use the current diplomatic opening to probe in other areas unrelated to its nuclear program, which, in turn, will raise a set of trying and familiar issues for the US-South Korea relationship.