Obama has a full plate of international flashpoints, from Iran’s nuclear objectives to an ambitious China and a teetering Europe. But it would be a grave mistake not to put North Korea high on America’s to-do list. Sanctions only go so far. A second term affords Obama a chance to place this issue in the global spotlight.
Reaching out to the late Kim Jong Il, who ruled North Korea until his death last December, bore little fruit for the administrations of Bill Clinton, Bush or Obama. Nor did Lee’s predecessors, Roh Moo Hyun and Kim Dae Jung, get much mileage out of visiting Pyongyang. And it might be awkward to see veteran lawmaker Park negotiating with an untested dictator believed to be less than half her age.
But the world confronting North Korea today is very different from that a just a few years ago.