Early last week in a surprise move, President Trump agreed to a meeting with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un. According to the New York Times, during a meeting with South Korean officials, President Trump was relayed a direct invitation from the North Korean leader. The person who relayed the invitation was South Korean National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong, who had met with Kim a week prior.
“He expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” Chung told reporters at the White House after meeting the president. Trump, he said, agreed to “meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.”
The possibility of the two leaders meeting is a dramatic change in rhetoric as the two leaders have gone as far as to threaten nuclear holocaust upon each others’ nations on multiple occasions.
What remains to be seen is where and how the meeting could possibly take place. The only thing known about the possible exchange is the fact the two leaders will be there. One possible location for a meeting could be the Panmunjom Peace House in the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that separates the two Korea. This site will host a meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in later in April. Any potential U.S. – North Korean summit would likely include the presence of South Korea, the close U.S. ally and southern neighbor of the Kim Regime.
Escalations between the two Koreas is nothing new to South Korean citizens. “Frankly, I am not concerned as much. I was born, raised and am living in a time of truce that never seems to end,” said HwaJung Kim (’20). “The news about North Korea, its leader and their nuclear weapons is an everyday thing. Nothing extraordinary. I am actually surprised at how Americans are so worried about this North Korea issue and always ask questions about my family in Seoul, whether they are safe and such. So, I’ll say that it really feels indifferent; we’ve been living with the issue all our lives.”
When asked if she thought the talks could be successful, she said, “Well, it is indeed the last thing left for Kim Jong-un to hold on to so he could make his voice be heard to the others.”
“I am pretty sure whatever comes out from that meeting won’t really change the situation. Even if Kim promises that he would abandon all nuclear weapons and cease the experiments, it’d be just words and he will hold on to his precious ‘rockets,’” she elaborated. “But, it would make him seem like a better dictator than his father, so I won’t call that a total waste of time. Trump wouldn’t lose so much here as well since he would have one thing to write down as his accomplishment during his presidency.”
When asked on his concerns for a potential war, Drew student Won-woo Jeong, who was in service with the Korean military for two years from 2012-2014, said, “In my experience, there were many emergency situations whenever Mr. Kim tried to provoke South Korea to make any possible benefit from South Korea or the U.S. However, even though we always prepared for the situation…, [in] the end, North Korea stopped whatever they were doing.” Jeong explained that this implied the outbreak of a war would not benefit North Korea and eluded that their main goal is to prove the validity of communism.