Between insults and handshakes, Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump had their ups and downs. But the American president has never inspired North Korea to hate Joe Biden, a “mad dog” who should be “beaten to death”.
The tenant of the White House, who never tires of celebrating his proximity to the North Korean leader, has already promised to conclude “very quickly” an agreement with the North if he is re-elected on November 3. And this, even if the diplomatic process between Pyongyang and Washington has stalled for 20 months.
There is no doubt, experts say, that the former Democratic vice-president will embrace a radically different approach if he wins.
Pyongyang harbors a stubborn resentment towards Joe Biden for his role in the Obama administration and his doctrine of “strategic patience” vis-à-vis North Korea. The idea was to refuse any dialogue if the North Korean regime did not first make concessions.
In November 2019, the official KCNA agency cracked down on a verbal attack of rare violence against the Democratic candidate.
“Rabid dogs like Biden can harm a lot of people if left free,” the agency said. “You have to beat them to death with a stick”.
“No love letters” from Biden
The North Korean regime has also taken over one of the nicknames given by Mr. Trump to his opponent, Sleepy joe (“Joe asleep”).
The latter, him, judges that the American president went much too far in the reconciliation with the strong man of Pyongyang, repeating that he would not meet Mr. Kim unconditionally.
“The Biden administration will not split love letters,” he quipped in a reference to the correspondence between MM. Trump and Kim.
On Thursday, during the final presidential debate, the Democratic candidate again castigated the friendship forged by Mr. Trump with a “thug” whom he compared to Adolf Hitler.
“He talked about this good buddy who is a thug,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Kim. “It’s like saying we had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe.”
The Democratic candidate said he too would agree to meet Kim Jong Un, but on the condition of a promise of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
According to Andrei Lankov, professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, Pyongyang is hoping Mr. Trump will get a second term.
“The election of Joe Biden will lead to a stalemate,” Lankov said. “If Donald Trump is re-elected, (the North Koreans) will stand for a while in the hope of extracting concessions from him.”
The start of the Trump presidency was marked by exchanges of insults that had contributed to aggravating tensions in 2017. But a relaxation had begun thanks to the 2018 Winter Olympics.
And Donald Trump had become, that year in Singapore, the first sitting US president to meet a North Korean leader.
MM. Kim and Trump had subsequently twice staged their good understanding, in Hanoi and then in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
But the nuclear negotiations came to nothing, and Pyongyang probably never stopped pursuing its forbidden military programs. Until the beginning of October, a giant intercontinental ballistic missile was exhibited during a parade.
Chung Min Lee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently praised Mr. Trump’s efforts to connect with Mr. Kim during a video conference.
“The problem is what he did with it”, he added, denouncing the bad motivations of the American president. “Mr. Trump was obsessed with the idea that Kim Jong Un would somehow allow him to impose on the United States the image of the president who brought peace to the Koreans ”.
The election of Mr. Biden would mark a return to a traditional diplomatic process, according to South Korean Ambassador to the United States Lee Soo-hyuck, namely lengthy negotiations at the advisor level, rather than a meeting of high level between two leaders affirming the possibility of working out a global agreement in a few hours.
Biden’s advisers on diplomacy and security matters have held senior positions in the Obama administration, he recalled.
“Rather than a vertical, top-down approach, I expect policies to be developed and proposed at the working group level and approved by the president,” he said.
Pyongyang will closely follow the US presidential election, reserving the right to test its latest missiles at any time.