The election of Trump in 2016 upset the political, economic, and geopolitical assets of the World. Although this may look like ancient history already, it seems that the conditions for another wave of turbulence are resurfacing.
In order to understand this peculiar brand of unbalance, it is necessary to briefly analyze the outcome of Trump’s election and to compare it with today’s situation.
I clearly remember the days after Trump’s election, when everyone was talking about the future of the United States and what would change internally. I also clearly remember that, while this debate was happening, I was more interested in how his election would affect the geopolitical sphere and, more specifically, if the leader of North Korea would react the way I expected him to. And he did.
As a matter of fact, thinking in a geopolitical way, it was more than obvious that Trump’s election would have severe repercussions in Asia, where the balance created with the United States has always been feeble to say the least. It is no wonder, then, that shortly after the news of the newly elected President of the United States, the newspapers started talking about another wave of Kim Jong-un’s infamous missiles being shot towards South Korea and the neighboring countries.
Although this information was not being disclosed by international newspaper and journals, reading Korean newspapers as well as talking to my friends gave me a better understanding of what was actually happening in South Korea: Seoul, the capital of South Korea, has a set of tunnels built underneath the city to protect the citizens from airstrikes and bombing, accessible through the subway galleries, that have been closed for several years and that have been re-opened following the election of Trump, in fear that it would upset the leader of North Korea. My understanding is that it has not been necessary to use the tunnels, but the mere fact that then the newly elected President Moon Jae-In felt the need to give the citizens the opportunity of protecting themselves if necessary speaks volumes to me.
As I mentioned earlier, this situation may seem far from us now, who are dealing with a pandemic and who are already witnessing the new United States’ presidential elections. However, there has been the feeling of a historical and political loop. In fact, the news of Kim Jong-un’s coma and the consequent possibility of his sister, Kim Yo-jong, raising to power would have brought unrest both in the Asian and the Western sphere. Although this prospect seems to be getting further and further away from us, due to the North Korean leader’s sudden reappearance as the head of a Politburo meeting, the effects that the eventuality of a shift in power might bring forth shall not be underestimated. It is foreseeable that the Korean peninsula would bear the highest toll, given its proximity to North Korea, but it would also be very interesting to see how China might react and, consequently, how the United States would respond, since, so far, it has many precedents showing that a blow-by-blow response seems to be the strategy the country is going for.
All in all, 2020 appears to be destroying all of our beliefs so these are, for now, merely speculations. We might get some clear answers after the United States’ presidential elections so stay tuned for that!