U.S. relations with South Korea couldn’t be better. Alas, relations with North Korea could hardly be worse. The Biden administration is celebrating the former with a state visit by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. In contrast, the administration has nothing to say to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who refuses to engage with the United States.
As a result, even a triumphant summit with Yoon is, at best, a hollow victory for Washington. U.S. relations with the South are not in doubt. Although Washington and Seoul sometimes disagree on strategy toward the North, even left-leaning South Korean presidents, such as the redoubtable Kim Dae-jung, have been committed to the alliance. In contrast, North Korea is increasingly acquiring the means to challenge the U.S. security commitment to the South.