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North Korea – Professor Stephen Nagy

Interview with Professor Stephen Nagy on the Trade War, China, Trump and Xi

There are a few ways to think about this. On the one hand, “Addressing Pyongyang’s security concerns isn’t through Seoul but through Washington. Severing communication (temporarily) with Seoul re-emphasizes to the Trump administration that progress on denuclearization and or some kind of agreement cannot be outsourced to the Blue House. “
On the other hand, “There are many questions as to how hard the DPRK has been hurt by the COVID 19 pandemic and continuing sanctions against the Kim regime. Cutting ties may also be a ploy to try to get the ROK to provide some creative sanction relief in return for the reestablishment of communication and a commitment to lobbying the Trump administration to come back to the negotiating table” 
Another possible motivation could be that the DPRK issue has lost salience with the dramatic increase in tension between China and the US, the upcoming US election, and the COVID 19 pandemic. With no one paying attention to Pyongyang and sanctions likely hurting, Kim is likely trying to find a way to get back into the spotlight and get sanction relief for his regime and supporters. Without doing that, he may lose support by the ruling class.
Take homes:1) no movement on denuclearization 2) US focused on China, 2020 Nov. election, and Covid 193) no fundamental impact on trade, supply chains or US position 

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