The United States and South Korea are finding it harder and harder to stick to the same playbook on North Korea. Consider what’s happened just in the month since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in Pyongyang for a landmark summit.
In early September, the South opened a liaison office with the North, reportedly without first informing the U.S., which opposed the move. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha later publicly admonished Washington for its purported inflexibility on the good faith measures Pyongyang demanded. The next week, Kang said that Seoul was considering lifting sanctions on North Korea related to its sinking of a South Korean ferry in 2010. Another senior South Korean official walked back the claim, but not before U.S. President Donald Trump said Seoul “does nothing without our approval,” a comment that riled the Korean public. On Oct. 12, South Korea’s new military chief pledged to push for the transfer of war