Country Reports

In the first months of 2017, the cloud of impeachment hung heavily over South Korea’s foreign policy, while China’s anger at the THAAD deployment kept growing, and signs of the Trump administration taking a tough stance against North Korea’s increasingly serious threat capacity were growing too. Seoul’s relations with Tokyo were more troubled than before, and ties to Moscow were not improving after their downturn in 2016. This was a difficult atmosphere to set a new policy direction, but progressives—emboldened by the popularity of the impeachment cause—were raising hope that a way forward existed by repudiating Park’s recent policies. The challenge deepened in mid-March when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went to Seoul with the unmistakable message that US policy toward North Korea had changed, putting more pressure on the incoming government to accept a more assertive sanctions and military posture.

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