South Korean President Moon Jae‑in has just completed his first year in office, and what an eventful year it has been. Over the past 12 months, the world watched tensions surrounding Pyongyang’s nuclear weapon program take the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war. And then, just as strikingly, we beheld a sharp de-escalation of those tensions, culminating in great strides toward inter-Korean reconciliation.
What explains this stunning turnaround? Did President Moon’s North Korea policy diverge drastically from that of his disgraced predecessor, Park Geun‑hye? Indeed, Moon had pledged to reverse many of Park’s policies in his electoral campaign.
In my new ASPI paper, Shifts in approaches to the DPRK under President Moon, I find that Moon’s North Korea policy has in fact been marked more by its continuity with that of Park than it has been by change—particularly in the defensive realm. The main element of change has occurred on the diplomatic front, where Moon’s engagement policy has facilitated the remarkable inter-Korean rapprochement of recent months. _** For the full report please visit the Australian Strategic Policy Institute website.**_