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Both Trump, N. Korea could opt for 'October Surprise': expert

North Korea 17:59 September 11, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump could use the issue of North Korea to boost his reelection chances, and Pyongyang could also opt to cut a deal with Trump ahead of November's presidential vote, a researcher at a state-run think tank said Friday.

Jeong Seong-yoon, an analyst at the Korean Institute for National Unification, made the case in a report on the future of the North-U.S. relations, saying that the next one year will be a critical period that will determine the North's denuclearization.

"Trump could take advantage of the North Korea issue to restore approval ratings, and North Korea could also determine that it would be better to have a deal with Trump rather than the Biden administration," the report said, referring to Trump's Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

"This is the key background behind the forecast of the so-called October Surprise," it said.

Along with the U.S. election, the coronavirus pandemic will be a key factor affecting the North's denuclearization and relations between Washington and Pyongyang, the report said.

"The protraction of COVID-19 will drag the North Korean economy further down and may lead the public to turn its back," it said.

It added that the so-called "rally around the flag effect" that the North employs to gain public support and solidify internal unity will not be effective in times of a protracted crisis.


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