SEOUL, South Korea – The past few days have been a rollercoaster ride for President Moon Jae-in of South Korea
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he would travel to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, next week, hopes that the trip would make progress in the discussions on the denuclearization of the North, and would provide the reason for Mr. Moon to promote intra-Korean relations.
These hopes were quickly dashed a day later, however, when President Trump abruptly canceled Mr. Pompeo's trip.
For many South Koreans, Washington's zigzag was another sign of poor coordination in its North Korean policy, and it left Mr. Moon with a difficult decision. 1
Any major cooperation with Mr. Kim would also trigger a backlash from Mr. Moon's conservative enemies at home who are always eager to portray him as a dangerous progressor.
But the postponement of inter-Korean projects, such as his plan to reconnect the two Korean railways, would also be a major setback for Mr. Moon, who has vowed to be a "driver's seat" to override the North American nuclear arms crisis defuse and create peace on the Korean peninsula.
Mr. Trump could have got hold of Mr. Pompeo's journey to swiftly influence North Korea, and the American president could revive him soon – as he had canceled his summit with Mr. Kim in June and then reinstated Kim Yong -hyun, a professor of North Korean Studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, the South Korean capital.
But if that's not the case, Mr. Moon may be in an uncomfortable situation if he sits down with Mr. Kim next month.
"He may try to persuade Kim Jong-un to become more cooperative with denuclearization, to tell him that inter-Korean relations can not progress without him, or he may choose to advance inter-Korean projects without progress in denuclearization, "said Shin Beom-chul, North Korea Specialist at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. "If he chooses the latter, it will be bad for relations between South Korea and the United States."
Mr. Moon's foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, spoke to Mr. Pompeo on Saturday, who regretted the cancellation of Mr. Pompeo's trip. But the allies agreed "to maintain dialogue with North Korea," said Ms. Kang's office.
On Saturday there was no immediate response from North Korea.
The recent dispute between Pyongyang and Washington came at A delicate moment in relations between Seoul and Washington
"I believe in the importance of recognizing That we are the protagonists in the Korean Peninsula, Mr. Moon said, "Developments in inter-Korean relations are not the result of progress in relations between the North and the United States. Rather, progress in inter-Korean relations is the driving force behind the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
This comment, coupled with Mr. Moon's proposal for a brave new economic cooperation with North Korea and its plan to open the inter-Korean connection Fears among the conservative South Koreans that Mr. Moon's eagerness to advance relations with Washington
In recent weeks, Mr Moon's high approval rating has dropped in the face of rising public discontent over a slowing economy and high youth unemployment, he needs breakthroughs in relations with Pyongyang. But to push his Korean business agenda, he wanted relations between North Korea and the United States to improve so much that international sanctions could be eased.
Mr. Moons government officials have often said that Mr. Trumps is unconventional This approach could offer the best chance for a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis, a problem that the United States governments have failed to solve successfully.
But the South Koreans have learned how unpredictable it is to hold the alliance with Washington under Trump when the American leader wavered with threats to rain "fire and rage" in the north and become the first sitting American president who met the North Korean leader.
But even after Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim met In Singapore, they agreed to work towards the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and to build "new" bilateral relations Fear of the Fragility of the Diplomatic Process  They express their concern that Mr Trump could change his mind at any time, especially when he realizes that he can not afford the speedy denuclearization of North Korea, which he seemed to promise the American. V3.espacenet.com/textdoc? /1995/01/30.html When he said right after the Singapore Summit that "there would be no nuclear threat from North Korea anymore"
the South Koreans are also worried that Mr. Trump was distracted by his increasing legal problems becomes home or that he can not survive for a second term. A diplomatic process co-founded by Mr. Moon could quickly be overturned, as would be the case if a new government in Washington began with a more skeptical attitude to diplomatically engage the North.
When Mr. Moon Met Mr. Kim twice emphasized this year's importance for North Korea to act swiftly to reach a denuclearization deal in return for better relations with Washington, while Trump was in office. so that it would be difficult for future governments to reverse the course.
But things did not move as fast as Mr. Moon had hoped.
Two months after the summit in Singapore, the talks remain stalemate. Washington wants the North to take bolder steps toward denuclearization, such as uncovering a complete inventory of its nuclear facilities and starting dismantling some of them. But North Korea says it will focus only on "phases" of denuclearization and insists on "concurrent" mutual concessions from Washington, such as the joint declaration of an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
"Kim Jong-un must be not only watching Trump's legal problems at home and Moon Jae-ins following his popularity charts in calculating his next steps," said Lee Byong-chul, a senior staff member at the Institute for Peace and cooperation in Seoul.
In recent weeks, North Korea has bitterly complained that Mr. Trump's approval of Mr. Kim has been sabotaged by government officials who insist on what Pyongyang calls a "one-sided and gangster-like demand for denuclearization."
"Time is not upon Trump or Moon's side, both of whom are considering their political plans and overturning the cancellation card many times over, will lose its effect," said Duyeon Kim, a Seoul-based researcher at the Center for One New American security.
"But Pyongyang should realize that time is not on its side either because we do not know what Trump will do after the midterm elections in November Trump may be the only American president willing to meet with Kim Jong -un to deal with. "