East Asia Compass

Summit Season: From Inter-Korea to Trump-Kim

12 May, 2018    ·   5465

Dr Sandip Kumar Mishra discusses the events that led to the possibility of these summits and their consequences

The news of an inter-Korea summit between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un earlier this year understandably invited a lot of international attention. Pictures of Kim Jong-un holding hands with Moon Jae-in, smiling and crossing the border together, portrayed the North Korean leader in a very different light. Suddenly, through the power of visual imagery, Kim Jong-un looked like a "mainstream" world leader with whom diplomacy was possible - and perhaps even a discussion of North Korean denuclearisation. However, skeptics of course continue to believe that Kim will not give up the country's nuclear and missile programmes, its only real bargaining chip with the world. Skeptics argue that North Korea has made several such gestures in the past but has reneged each time. This time, also, it is not a change of heart but only a clever strategy to dodge diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions.

US President Donald Trump is also going to hold a summit with Kim Jong-un in late-May or early-June. This will be a historic first meeting between US and North Korean leaders after the birth of North Korea. North Korea has crafted its course of action very carefully, and after accomplishing significant advancement in its nuclear and missile programmes, has offered to give them up if its security is genuinely assured. The about-turn in North Korean behaviour and strategy is not easy to decipher. Donald Trump may attribute the change in North Korea's posture to his policy of