Stories by Gi-Wook Shin

Expert Voices

Why walking away from Kim's deal may have been the right move

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a news conference following his second summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on February 28, 2019 i
President Trump at a news conference following his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Tuan Mark via Getty Images

President Trump caught the world by surprise once again yesterday with a decision not to sign a deal with his North Korean counterpart, Chairman Kim Jong-un, in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The big picture: While walking away is a common tactic in working-level negotiation, what happened in Hanoi was a rare case and the least expected outcome. Nonetheless, it might have been a much-needed reality check, not a failure, for both sides in the still-early stages of a long process of negotiation.

Expert Voices

Success of second Trump-Kim summit will lie in the details

A banner showing President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shaking hands next to the words 'Welcome to Vietnam'
A banner hung opposite the Marriott Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam, where President Trump is expected to stay during his summit with Kim Jong-un, on Feb. 25. Photo: Carl Court via Getty Images

While President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s June 2018 meeting ended with a broad statement — committing to “establish new U.S.-DPRK relations” for “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula” — they will aim to take more concrete steps forward at their second summit in Hanoi this week.

Between the lines: To keep up the diplomatic momentum, Trump and Kim will need to minimize existing ambiguities and divergences on key issues — including the definition of denuclearization — and produce a comprehensive road map that lays out the specifics of their proclaimed shared vision. Without these agreements, the Hanoi summit could be easily denigrated as “just another show.”

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.