South Korean President Moon Jae-in has revealed his thoughts on the Trump administration’s diplomatic efforts with North Korea, as well as the threats his nation will face going forward. In an interview with the New York Times, Moon said that he hoped Joe Biden wouldn’t repeat the failures of the past.

Moon said Trump’s talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “beat around the bush” and that Trump “failed to pull it through,” referring to efforts to achieve North Korean denuclearization.

“The most important starting point for both governments is to have the will for dialogue and to sit down face to face at an early date.”

Trump’s talks with North Korea showed some initial promise. Despite high tensions in the area, Moon says North Korea’s leader signaled early on that denuclearization was on the table.

“If safety can be guaranteed without nuclear weapons, why would I struggle to hold onto them even at the cost of sanctions?” Moon says Kim told him during a meeting.

Trump and Kim seemed to hit it off as well.

“He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters,” Trump said at a rally. “We fell in love.”

Kim suggests, however, that Trump was too easily swayed. Despite receiving no denuclearization promises, Trump declared the North Korean nuclear threat over and scaled down U.S. military presence in the area when South Korea refused to pay more money.

“His demand lacked reasonable and rational calculation,” Moon said.

Relations deteriorated between Trump and Kim. Less than a year later Trump has resumed calling Kim “rocket man,” prompting the North Korea government to call Trump “senile” and a “dotard.”

Tensions remained high after Trump left office. North Korea has more or less taken total denuclearization off the table, with experts saying that it will require a long, gradated process if it’s even still possible.

An announcement recommitting the U.S. to the goal of denuclearization prompted a statement from Kim’s sister warning that “if [the U.S.] wants to sleep in peace for the coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in wants US President Joe Biden to engage directly with North Korea over nuclear issues South Korean President Moon Jae-in wants US President Joe Biden to engage directly with North Korea over nuclear issues Photo: POOL / JEON HEON-KYUN

In South Korea, Moon’s skeptics are losing patients with his friendly stance toward North Korea.

“His good intentions brought bad consequences,” said Kim Sung-han, a professor at Korea University. “His mediation has not worked nor do we have progress in denuclearization. His time is running out.”

Moon sees some hope, however, in the Biden administration. Biden himself recommitted to denuclearization last month, saying he was open to talks but only if those talks were a path toward North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea has responded positively, including suggesting several first steps toward that goal.

“This dialogue and diplomacy can lead to denuclearization,” Moon said. “If both sides learn from the failure in Hanoi and put their heads together for more realistic ideas, I am confident that they can find a solution.”