The Korea Herald


N. Korea wants Trump's reelection, will raise tensions until presidential vote: ex-German envoy

By Yonhap

Published : Feb. 29, 2024 - 08:51

    • Link copied

Former US President Donald Trump (right) shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the inter-Korean border truce village of Panmunjom on June 30, 2019. (The Korea Herald) Former US President Donald Trump (right) shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the inter-Korean border truce village of Panmunjom on June 30, 2019. (The Korea Herald)

North Korea hopes for former President Donald Trump's win in the Nov. 5 US presidential election and will continue to raise tensions with Seoul and Washington until the election, a former German ambassador to Pyongyang said in a media contribution published Wednesday.

Thomas Schafer made the case in a piece written to NPR, saying that Pyongyang would want to give negotiations with Trump "another try" in the event of his reelection, although a nuclear parley between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fell apart during their Hanoi summit in 2019.

Schafer served as Germany's top envoy in the North from 2007-2010 and then from 2013-2018.

"North Korea hopes for a win by former President Donald Trump in the upcoming US presidential elections, as the regime in Pyongyang sees him as more amenable to its wishes than President Biden," he said in the piece, entitled "Why North Korean wants another chance with Donald Trump."

"Until the elections, it will continue to increase tensions with South Korea and the US," he added.

His view came amid growing speculation that Pyongyang may engage in major provocations ahead of the US presidential election to highlight what could be seen as a failure by current US President Joe Biden to deter evolving North Korean threats.

Schafer noted that in Pyongyang's view, the current Seoul-Washington policy toward the North is "much worse" than Trump's policy.

"President Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol have agreed to restart the joint maneuvers, have reinforced their countries' alliance and even included Japan in a trilateral cooperation," he said.

"Although the Trump-Kim meetings up to Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2019 did not give everything Kim had asked for, Pyongyang surely believes that a victory by Trump in the presidential elections would give North Korea a second chance to further its objectives."

The former ambassador enumerated what he thought was a set of North Korean objectives -- the withdrawal of US troops from the Korean Peninsula, the weakening of the South Korea-US alliance, and, ultimately, control of South Korea by Pyongyang.

"So as Trump emerges as the Republican front-runner again, I am convinced that Pyongyang would love to give negotiations with Trump another try, in the event that he wins the presidency again later this year," he said.

Schafer predicted that the North would continue to ratchet up tensions with the South to provide Trump with possible "success" if he returns to the White House.

"Their thinking is: The more we increase tensions, the more we can back down during negotiations, and the more benefit President Trump can claim for having saved peace. Trump, according to Pyongyang's thinking, may well give in this time," he said.

On the campaign trail, Trump boasted that he and Kim does "get along well" with each other -- remarks that raised the prospect of the former president trying to reengage with the North Korean leader.

Biden has stressed his openness to diplomacy with the North, but his administration has focused largely on deterrence against North Korean threats due to the regime's unresponsiveness to repeated dialogue overtures. (Yonhap)