There is less than a week before US citizens head to the polls to decide their future president – either incumbent Donald Trump or Mr Biden. During their final debate, the issue of North Korea and the President’s relationship with Kim Jong-un was brought up. The Democratic candidate called the dictator a “thug” and made a comparison to the “good relationship with [Adolf] Hilter” before he “invaded the rest of Europe”. President Trump claimed he had averted “nuclear war” and his “good relationship” reduced their threat to the world. Analysts who have studied the peninsula’s movements suggest that Kim would prefer a second term for the US leader and could fear a Biden presidency.
Victor Cha, from the Centre for Strategic International Studies, predicted that North Korea might “put themselves on the radar” irrespective of whoever wins the 2020 US election.
He pointed out in previous “midterms and elections” that the state had “ramped up” missile testing – a move he suspected was to “compel the administration to deal with them”.
Mr Cha believed there would no longer be “gushing letters going back and forth between the two leaders” under a Biden presidency.
He added that President Trump had “opened the door” to further diplomacy between the US and North Korea – and that he would be best placed to have success with Kim.
Last month, Mr Cha told The Impossible State podcast: “North Koreans have a clear preference in this election – they want Trump again.
“They don’t want Biden because that means real diplomacy and real substantive negotiations where we are focussed like a laser beam on their capabilities and denuclearisation.
“When you think of all the other challenges domestically or internationally, you don’t want another crisis on the Korean peninsula… so they will eventually take a much more cautious approach in dealing with North Korea.”
Dr Sheen believed there could be “new opportunities” for Mr Biden and it would be very different than when he served as Vice President in Barack Obama’s administration.
He said: “Kim Jong-un may be a bit different in his approach, he will be much more open to a negotiation on his nuclear programme [and] looking for more of the economic opportunity.
“During the Obama administration… he was very much in a difficult position as a young leader, who had just succeeded his father.”
Dr Sheen claimed there was a lot of “tit for tat” and “military provocation” between the North and South Korea during Obama’s presidency – which forced the administration to take a “hard-line policy”.
He continued: “Obama had no other choice than to support his South Korean counterpart – in that process it was very difficult to engage with North Korea on the nuclear front.
“Now Biden will have a very different dynamic, he has a Kim Jong-un who is more open to diplomacy but also a South Korean counterpart that is very much supportive of that kind of US engagement with North Korea.”
Meanwhile Chad O’Carroll, of the Korea Risk Group, felt President Trump stood the best chance of diplomacy due to the state’s previous remarks about Mr Biden.
He said: “In November 2019, KCNA said that rabid dogs like Biden can hurt lots of people and they must be beaten to death with the stick before it’s too late.
“This is in my opinion a clear North Korean preference for Donald Trump, I don’t think they’re interested in Biden particularly.
“I don’t think they would be particularly interested in a slow, drawn-out, traditional diplomatic process at this stage.
“Especially with all of these problems, they need something prompt to relieve this pressure and I do think Trump is the only one that they feel can probably offer that.”
North Korea’s Triple Whammy episode of The Impossible State podcast is available to listen to here.