For South Korea’s President, Biden’s Win Is Both Good News and Bad News

For South Korea’s President, Biden’s Win Is Both Good News and Bad News

A new administration points to a resolution of some thorny bilateral disputes—but could threaten Moon Jae-in’s cherished rapprochement with the North.

SEOUL—The first thing South Korean President Moon Jae-in tweeted on Sunday was diplomatic congratulations to the new U.S. president-elect, Joe Biden.

“Congratulations to @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. Our alliance is strong and the bond between our two countries is rock-solid. I very much look forward to working with you for our shared values. I have great expectations of advancing and opening up the future development of our bilateral relations,” the tweets read.

“Katchi kapshida!” he added, which is the official slogan for the South Korean-U.S. alliance and Korean for “Let’s go together!”

And Moon does have a lot to be happy about when it comes to a Biden administration. The former vice president is a lot more popular than President Donald Trump among South Koreans, who according to Gallup Korea favored Biden 59 percent to 16 percent for Trump. And Biden would likely de-escalate the ongoing dispute over the shared cost of hosting U.S. troops in Korea.

“While there haven’t been any specific indications of where Biden leans on this issue, it seems likely that they will push for a quick and fair resolution—probably working with South Korea’s last offer,” said Jenny Town, a fellow at the Stimson Center and the deputy director of 38 North, a North Korea watching website.