The letter sent by Donald Trump to Kim Jong-un on May 24 gave the impression that no opportunities remained open for a historic meeting between the sitting president of the United States and the leader of North Korea.
In all likelihood, US President Donald Trump will be meeting with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, in Singapore on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of North Korea's denuclearization. It has been an arduous road to get to this point, with the ever-intensifying prospect of war breaking out in the Korean peninsula dramatically shifting to a deepening dialogue over peace, all taking place in the span of a year.
The once unthinkable is imminent. On June 12 at 09:00 local time, at the Capella Hotel on Singapore's resort island Sentosa, the top leaders of the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) will meet for the first time in history.
What will Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un talk about? Many things, no doubt. But first and foremost, denuclearization.
As we approach the US-North Korea summit in Singapore, there is much speculation about the potential outcome. Will the US persuade North Korea to lay down its nuclear weapons programme? Will North Korea use the negotiations to incrementally secure resources and gains from the US side while keeping its trump card to the very end? Much speculation on the outcome has also centred around the two men's personalities, since so much of what has been different this time around seems to stem from their personal choices.
Moon Jae-in will be remembered in history books as one of the three South Korean presidents who met with their North Korean counterpart – the other two being Kim Dae-jung (1998-2003) and Roh Moo-hyun (2003-2008). Throughout his electoral campaign, Moon vowed to revive the engagement policy and restore economic cooperation with Pyongyang, after his predecessor – Park Geun-hye (2013-2017) – had severed all contacts with North Korea in 2016, as a result of the fourth nuclear test and various missile launches.
Famously, Donald Rumsfeld once said there are “known knowns, and then there are known unknowns”. With the current North Korea situation, this expression seems apt. There are things that we appear to know, for example the actual planned events, the negotiations which are moving dramatically forward, going from vague promises to actual dates. There are even known knowns about negotiating positions – so we know that the US does not wish to remove its troops from the Peninsula without a dramatic reduction in the threat to its ally the ROK.
Chinese president Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un met in Beijing early this week, in what can be defined a historic meeting. The two heads of state never met. And Kim Jong-un has not visited a foreign country since 2011, year in which he came to power, following his father’s (Kim Jong-il) death.