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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.

The Pyongyang Declaration fell short of addressing the U.S. demands for North Korean denuclearization. It broadly declared that the two nations would work together toward a Korean peninsula “free of nuclear weapons and nuclear threat,” and that the Northern regime would take steps to permanently dismantle nuclear and missile test sites (including Yongbyon, the birthplace of the country’s nuclear program) if the U.S. took “corresponding measures.”

Kim also agreed to welcome “experts of concerned countries” to witness the prospective dismantlement process. However, he made no commitment to provide either a list of the country’s nuclear facilities or a step-by-step timeline for closing them down — a major step many in Washington had hoped to see.

What’s next: Moon is scheduled to brief Trump on the outcome of the Pyongyang summit during his trip for the UN General Assembly next week. Trump has already expressed interest in a follow-up summit with Kim and hailed the Pyongyang developments as “very exciting,” but it remains to be seen whether the Declaration will be sufficient to move the U.S. toward further negotiations — and possibly toward another meeting between Trump and Kim.

Gi-Wook Shin is chair of Korean Studies at Stanford University, director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Go deeper

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN." Both brothers have denied allegations leveled against them.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
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Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.