South Korea faces a critical crossroads this month with three major diplomatic and security issues involving North Korea, the U.S. and Japan waiting to be resolved.
It's an uphill battle for Seoul in all fronts, with progress on North Korea's denuclearization virtually stalled, defense cost-sharing negotiations with Washington shaking the core of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, and a trade spat with Tokyo that has soured bilateral ties not only diplomatically but also economically.
For an in-depth discussion on those issues, Dr. Woo Jung-yeop of the Sejong Institute joins me tonight.
1. Let's start with North Korea. Following its latest activity at its main missile launch site, which the North called a 'test of great significance', the U.S. has convened the UN Security Council this week to discuss Pyeongyang's latest provocations. What does this entail? Is North Korea getting closer to trespassing Washington's red-line?
2. North Korea has been showing an "action-for-action" response to the U.S. in recent weeks. How are you expecting Pyeongyang to react to Washington convening a UN Security Council meeting?
3. Pyeongyang is set to hold a Workers' Party Central Committee meeting later this month. What kind of announcement do you expect from the North, should Washington's stance remain unchanged till then?
4. What if nothing happens until North Korea's self-imposed deadline which is now just three weeks away? Will nuclear talks between Pyeongyang and Washington go back to square one rendering all the historic summits pointless?
5. Moon-Trump held phone talks over the weekend upon Trump's request. What do you think the two leaders discussed?
6. What are the prospects of inter-Korean talks that are faltering at the moment?
7. Now to South Korea-Japan trade talks after weeks of dispute, the two sides have finally agreed to meet next Monday following Seoul's decision to conditionally delay the termination of GSOMIA. Do you expect some meaningful progress to be made?
8. Defense cost-sharing talks between Seoul and Washington are also set to be held later this month. The U.S. is reportedly asking South Korea to pay a lot more than it does now. Do you expect the two sides to strike a deal before the year-end?
9. South Korea-China relations have somewhat warmed up following Chinese FM Wang Yi' visit to Seoul last week. Wang send a strong message to the U.S.
What are the prospects of South Korea-China relations amid current U.S.-China tensions?
10. The Blue House announced that President Moon will head to China for the annual South Korea-China-Japan trilateral summit set for December 24th. What are the key points to keep in mind during Moon's visit to China?