South Korea’s ruling party is moving ahead as if Joe Biden’s US election victory is fait accompli, racing to find people who have ties with the Democrat candidate as part of a push to curry favor with the presumed president-elect.
National Assembly member Song Young-gil will lead a task force traveling to the US on Nov. 16 to make contact with Biden associates who will play a key role in Korean Peninsula issues, ruling-party leader Lee Nak-yon said on Friday.
“No matter how the new administration is launched, the impact on our Korean Peninsula is enormous,” said Min Hong-cheol, a ruling-party official. “How we prepare for it is important.”
Given a shortage in the current South Korean government of officials who have Biden connections, the party plans to cooperate closely with people from the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations who may have had dealings with then-US Senator Biden, the officials said. The late Roh’s presidency ended in February 2008, before then-presidential candidate Barack Obama had named Biden his running mate.
South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party, known as Minjudang, was pushed out of power from the end of Roh’s term until current President Moon Jae-in took office in 2017.
The apparent goal of the effort is to establish relationships in the early days of Biden’s transition team, when the policy framework for the Korean Peninsula will be shaped, but the task force figures to be making the rounds in the US at a time when the election’s result isn’t yet final. President Donald Trump has vowed to challenge results in several key states all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, based on allegations of voter and election fraud, and that process won’t likely be resolved in 10 days.
The Moon administration has worked closely with Trump on peace talks with North Korea, but it also clashed with the president on demands that Seoul pay more for the stationing of US troops in South Korea and make concessions on trade. A free-trade agreement between South Korea and the US was revised in 2018.
South Korea’s Democratic Party also will tap some influential Koreans who’ve had some experience working with Biden. For example, Park Jin, a member of the Power of the People Party, chaired the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs committee when Biden held the same position in the US Senate. Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also is being called upon to assist in the networking campaign, YTN News reported.
While his party made steps to begin a charm offensive with Biden, Moon met with his foreign and national security ministers Thursday to ensure that peacemaking efforts with North Korea aren’t disrupted by a possible change in US leadership.
“Our government has decided to work on the basis of the robust South Korea-US alliance to ensure no gap in our efforts to develop bilateral relations and advance the Korean Peninsula peace process,” spokesman Kang Min-seok said.
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