“Moon's expressed disfavour toward deployment of the (Thaad) anti-missile system is conducive to repairing strained ties with Terminal High Altitude Area DefenceChina. If the threat from across the 38th Parallel diminishes, Moon can make a stronger case for removing Thaad. For if is meant solely to threats from North Korea, why should it stay if such threats de-escalate?”
All of a sudden, the apparently imminent danger of a military showdown on the Korean Peninsula seems to have evaporated into thin air. A Government delegation from North Korea talked with American political experts in Oslo, Norway on 8 May. On Wednesday, freshly elected Moon Jae In, who advocates engagement with Pyongyang, was sworn in. A temporary relaxation in the once inflammable tensions in the area looks credible. Even better, the region has a precious opportunity to heal some of its most damaging recent rifts. Pyongyang keeps clamouring it will conduct its sixth nuclear test "at any time", and it is ready for a nuclear duel with the US. Washington has distanced itself from the Oslo talks, and ruled out changes to "maximum pressures". And Moon has to overcome the potential drags at home in Parliament, where his party lacks a majority, when he does reach out to North Korea.
Given US President Trump's willingness to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who knows, the informal contact in Oslo might pave the way for formal talks. The White House has left that door open; Pyongyang craves it; Beijing would welcome it; and it would be in Seoul's interests. Coordination with Washington will be Moon's foremost foreign policy challenge. Since he will take a milder approach to North Korea than his predecessor, he will have to straighten things out with decision-makers in Washington, who favour isolation and sanctions.