Many people are used to President Joe Biden rambling on and on about issues, so his very short message for North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was a bit of a surprise.
As Biden was leaving Seoul to travel to Japan as a part of his first trip to Asia as president, he was asked if he had a message for the North Korean dictator by reporters.
Biden said, “Hello…period.”
The president went a bit further saying that he was “not concerned” about the new nuclear tests that are being done by North Korea. The hermit kingdom has not had tests like these for almost five years.
The two-word message from Biden to Kim Jong Un is certainly a commentary on the approach the White House has regarding new tensions in North Korea.
It is very different from the way the former administration interacted with North Korea. President Donald Trump went from threats to love letters with Kim.
No approach has been effective with North Korea. The country has already resumed testing of its massive intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and there are reports from the intelligence community that it is getting ready to do a nuclear test.
Biden: U.S. is prepared
President Biden said that the United States is preparing for anything that North Korea might do. While visiting South Korea, Biden met with President Yoon Suk-yeol.
Together they agreed to consider bigger military exercises. They are also deploying more nuclear-capable American weapons in their region to possibly counter North Korea’s weapon tests.
The United States has made several overtures to North Korea recently that have not been reciprocated. COVID-19 vaccines were offered by America and Biden said this past weekend that he was willing to sit down with Kim if he thought there might be a breakthrough of some kind.
A senior administration official from the U.S. indicated that COVID-19 restrictions may be the reason North Korea has not been responding. In the past, the enigmatic country has said that overtures from the United States were insincere and America has “hustle policies” against the country.
The White House maintains that it is looking for serious engagement and not willing just to have grand gestures.
While in South Korea, Biden and Yoon toured an air operation at a U.S. airbase just south of Seoul. Both American and South Korean soldiers stand behind large computer projectors that have maps of the border between North and South Korea.
They watch for any missiles that might be launched from the North. President Yoon described the importance of this operation due to the new threats coming from North Korea.
The focus of this trip to Asia has been on connecting “like minded” democracies for increased cooperation. Both sides also are focused on building new efforts to counter China’s rising influence on the region. And they hope to collectively put pressure on Russia over the war in Ukraine.
While in Japan, Biden will meet with leaders of Japan, India, and Australia. The group is known as the Quad, and they will discuss pushing back against China’s expansion.
President Yoon, from South Korea, has expressed interest in joining the Quad, but an official from the United States said that the group was not considering the addition.
“It’s natural … to think about ways in which you can work with other like-minded democracies, but I think it’s also important to recognize that the goal right now is to develop and build out what has already been laid out,” the official said.
Increasing cooperation in that region will eventually lead to some kind of response from Kim Jong Un. It’s inevitable.