As many of you may well know, Donald Trump was elected to become the 45th president of the United States on Tuesday, upsetting Hillary Clinton in dramatic fashion. News of his election has sent the world into damage control, as several nations struggle to contemplate what a Trump presidency means for the future of their relationship with America. Korea is no exception.
As a Trump presidency started to be all but assured, President Park Geun-hye called an emergency meeting of the National Security Council to explore what a Trump presidency means for the future of the US-ROK alliance. In the meeting, Park stressed the need for Korea to be prepared for a drastic shift in ties under a president Trump. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry also formed a task force to prepare for shifts in ties as Trump moves to the White House. Overall, South Korea is working to mitigate the potential shock a Trump White House may have on the US-ROK relationship.
Park also had a ten minute discussion with Trump over the phone. Reports indicate that Trump made assurances that he would maintain Washington’s security commitment to Korea, a break from his campaign platform; it is too early to tell exactly what Trump plans for Korea, however.
The Saenuri Party also was dealt a winning card with the election of Trump. So far, Saenuri lawmakers have been able to keep the focus on the American election and diverting attention away from Choi-gate – President Park’s domestic political scandal. This deflection has provided a short break from the constant attacks on Park and Choi, though those most likely will continue sooner rather than later.
Finally, the North Korean response has been relatively mute following the election outcome. Earlier in the campaign, North Korea had praised Donald Trump, calling him a smart politican. Two days after the election, however, North Korea vowed to never give up its nuclear program, even under a president Trump. As for provocation, analysts believe Pyongyang will conduct a missile launch around December 17, the anniversary of Kim Jung-il’s death rather than around the American election.
So far, South Korea appears to be taking the proper cautionary steps to ensure that after inauguration any possible outcome is prepared for. North Korea is also stepping up to reaffirm its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Relations between the Koreas should be at a state resembling the status-quo, barring a major political change in the coming months. This ensures that the peninsula will be ready for anything come January 20, 2017.
*Written on my phone, will update and add links tomorrow.