The Korean peninsula over the years has been a shrimp between whales, a proverbial reference to its unwitting involvement in other nations’ disputes.
A slightly different version of that history repeated itself this week.
In striking a deal for North Korean participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics, South Korean President Moon Jae-in found himself sandwiched by two of his nation’s most central — yet competing — interests.
There is a desire to find reconciliation with North Korea, as the two countries have been separated by a decades-old war, and also a necessity to side with the United States, a close ally seeking to curb the totalitarian nation’s nuclear weapons program.
“He’s been pursuing a parallel diplomatic policy,” said Katharine Moon, a professor of Asian studies at Wellesley College. “Basically, it’s like having two partners, and you have to constantly dance with both of them, while at the same time not losing your own stance and your own posture.”
The South Korean leader so far has seemed to keep his balance.
In interviews, experts on inter-Korean relations say he’s done so in part by approaching the deal with North Korea cautiously and lowering expectations about its long-term significance in regard to denuclearization and unification on the peninsula.
The Olympics agreement, reached after nearly 12 hours of negotiations Tuesday, allows the North to bring a group
Article source: http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-south-korea-moon-20180111-story.html
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