Biden spares two words for North Korean leader — Analysis

When asked by Kim Jong Un what message he would like to transmit, the US president didn’t have much to offer.

Asked by a reporter if he had a message for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, US President Joe Biden succinctly replied “Hello. Period” on Sunday, his last day in South Korea before moving on to the Japanese leg of his Asian trip.

Biden outlines conditions for meeting Kim Jong-un

The not-quite-message followed Biden’s acknowledgment that he would consider meeting with Kim so long as the DPRK head was “sincere” and “Severe” about discussing the winding down of Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The president insists he is “Don’t be alarmed” about the possibility of new North Korean nuclear tests, claiming the US is “You are prepared to handle any North Korean situation.” 

Despite the president’s own words, his administration is reportedly concerned that Kim plans to launch a ballistic missile or conduct a nuclear test while the president is traveling in Asia. While the country has not conducted any nuclear tests since 2017, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has warned there is a “Real possibility” that Pyongyang could begin testing such devices again during or after Biden’s trip.

He arrived in Asia Thursday morning for his first ever trip there since he was elected president in 2020. After three days in South Korea, he visited the country’s Osan Air Base, hailing members of the US and South Korean military who are tasked with monitoring the nuclear threat from the North.

Biden issued a joint statement with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol declaring that the two countries had planned to “Expand the range and scope of military exercises, training and other combined military activities on the Korean Peninsula.”

The controversial drills were scaled back under former President Donald Trump in an effort to improve Washington’s relationship with North Korea. Two highly anticipated summits were held between US leaders and DPRK, but no agreements have been reached on denuclearization or sanctions.

Biden describes the conditions of meeting Kim Jong-un

Biden has returned to the more hostile posture of his predecessors toward North Korea, and Kim has responded in kind by firing off 15 ballistic missiles this year alone, warning that the DPRK not only has a “Firm will” to continue with its nuclear program but will use such weapons “Preemptively” if needed. Similar to Moon Jae In, Yoon was elected South Korean President.

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