On Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in lauded President Trump for meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un at the Korean Demilitarized Zone, calling it “historic” and declaring an “end of hostile relations” and the “start of an era of peace.”
Moon spoke with Trump and Kim at Panmunjom before the two leaders met without him, according to the Daily Mail, which added that Moon said the summit was “the fruits of amazing indignation,” citing Trump’s “unprecedented” Twitter offer to meet and Kim’s “bold” decision to accept it. The Straits-Times reported Moon stated, “That extraordinary proposal and bold response is the result of an astounding imagination that goes beyond common sense. This is unthinkable in the existing diplomatic grammar.”
Moon, who set up the first meeting between Trump and Kim in Singapore last year, himself met Kim three times in 2018 at Panmunjom. Trump, who met for a second time with Kim in Vietnam in February, was the first sitting U.S. president to visit North Korea. The Straits-Times noted, “Contact between the two sides has since been minimal — with Pyongyang issuing frequent criticisms of the U.S. position — but the two leaders exchanged a series of letters before Mr. Trump issued his offer to meet at the DMZ.”
Moon was born as a son of a refugee after his parents fled North Korea during the Korean War. He was elected as president of South Korea in 2016 after the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
In an interview with the Yonhap News Agency last week, before the Trump-Kim meeting, Moon stated:
There’s no reason to regard the current situation as a stalemate in the peace process on the Peninsula just because the pace has remained slow. Chairman Kim sent a personal letter to President Trump and also expressed condolences to the South on the passing of former First Lady Lee Hee-ho through First Vice Department Director of the Workers’ Party Central Committee, his sister, Kim Yo-jong. All of this sends a meaningful message. Last week, Chairman Kim reaffirmed his resolve for dialogue at a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which also backs up this analysis.
There has already been considerable headway made in the peace process on the Korean Peninsula, and it is still making steady progress. The resumption of negotiations between North Korea and the United States will take it to the next level. I believe everything has now fallen into place for that to happen.
North Korea and the United States have already reached an agreement on the ultimate goal of denuclearization talks. In summary, North Korea’s complete denuclearization was to be exchanged for a security guarantee for the North’s regime and an end to their hostile relations. This agreement is still valid.
The task at the current stage is to decide how to implement the promises made to each other: the procedures and sequencing. This has something to do with the level of trust they have in each other. As their hostile relations have persisted for more than 70 years, it will be difficult to cross a sea of mistrust all at once. In addition, this process is inevitable because it is impossible to implement what has been agreed upon between the two sides in one stroke at any given moment.
For this reason, my administration has put emphasis on the structure of a virtuous cycle between negotiations and trust. It is all about building trust through dialogue and negotiations and, again, enabling that trust to produce positive results of dialogue and negotiations. This is no doubt the quickest and most solid path to achieve denuclearization.