Stories by Gi-Wook Shin

Expert Voices

Moon–Kim summit in Pyongyang was promising, but no game changer

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the Inter-Korean Summit at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport on September 18, 2018.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on September 18, 2018, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo: Pyeongyang Press Corps via Getty Images

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s long-anticipated visit to Pyongyang on Monday bolstered hopes that the deadlock in U.S.–North Korea denuclearization talks could be broken. The two Koreas agreed to resume cooperation on the economic and cultural fronts, to launch a new age of inter-Korean relations and, most importantly, to begin an era of peace. Kim also promised to visit Seoul in the near future, probably by the end of this year, which would be a first for any North Korean leader.

The big picture: The Pyongyang summit was a hopeful development in the recent flurry of diplomacy with North Korea, but was not in itself a game changer. It laid more groundwork for peace on the peninsula, but ended with minimal progress on the nuclear front. The U.S. has yet to be convinced that the Kim regime is willing and ready to make concrete steps towards denuclearization.

Expert Voices

Korean elections give Moon momentum, but could shift U.S. alliance

 South Korean President Moon Jae-in talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (not pictured).
South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Photo: South Korean Presidential Blue House via Getty Images

On Wednesday, just 1 year after President Moon Jae-in took office, South Koreans reaffirmed their confidence in his administration by electing 14 out of 17 major municipality chiefs from the ruling party. This outcome marks a complete reversal of the 2006 municipal elections, when then-opposing conservatives won 12 out of 16 positions.

Why it matters: Progressives now fully control South Korean politics — national and municipal governments as well as the National Assembly. With this landslide victory, Moon's government gains new momentum to pursue his progressive agenda, including engagement with North Korea.

Expert Voices

Despite lack of plan, North Korea denuclearization could still happen

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with U.S. President Donald Trump during their historic summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with U.S. President Trump during their historic summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018, in Singapore. Photo: Kevin Lim/The Strait Times via Getty Images

The leaders of the U.S. and North Korea, who only six months ago appeared to be heading for war, have now declared their commitment to “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” However, the joint statement from last night’s meeting did not mention a formal framework for denuclearization.

The big picture: Although it feels like watching an old movie again, with new actors and some twists in the context, we have yet to see how this version ends. Despite mounting disappointments, Trump’s North Korea diplomacy still deserves the benefit of the doubt as it continues to evolve.

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