On May 1, 2020, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un made his first public reappearance after a 20-day absence during which international speculation about his health had been running rampant.
The performance of the North Korean economy is a mystery unlike that of any other country worldwide. The country publishes no economic statistics on a regular basis, and does not allow foreign scholars to inspect the capacity and output of industry. As a result, those who wish to get some (limited) grasp on what is happening inside the North must rely on official state pronouncements, accounts from visitors/foreign residents in the country, and South Korean media organizations with sources inside the country.
The issue regarding North Korean defectors has always been a very divisive one. As accessing North Korea remains difficult, first-hand testimonies and reports from defectors have become a valuable source of information to prove the degree of inhumanity of the Pyongyang regime.
In the period between 2016 and 2018 the threat North Korea posed to Japanese security increased dramatically. In that period, the regime led by Kim Jong-un carried out three nuclear tests between January 2016 and September 2017, demonstrating that it had become a de facto nuclear power.
The Singapore Summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim was lighting a beacon of hope on the Korean Peninsula. After almost 70 years of unending war, a new historical chance was emerging that would gradually bring peace to the divided nation. But, after the summit, renewed frustration about a lack of progress was not long coming. Particularly, the US administration returned to old patterns of negotiation and demonstrated an ambiguous agenda.
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.
Following weeks of ups and downs surrounding the prospects for the first meeting ever between a sitting US president and the North Korean leader, the two countries officials laid the groundwork for it by engaging in "microwave diplomacy" as US journalist Barbara Demick called it. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, however, stood above the diplomatic roller coaster as the sole actor who keeps working on infusing coherence and stability into this ride.
Tokyo is paying a hefty price. The price for the country's prime minister's near-obsession to follow Trump's erratic and ever-changing policy lead on North Korea. The devote Shinzo Abe for a long time bragged about being in constant touch with Trump on respective policies towards North Korea. Too bad, however, that Trump decided to kiss good sense and even remotely rational behaviour good-bye for good changing his mind on and policies towards Pyongyang on a daily basis.
On the eve of the historic meeting between Kim and Trump which may resolve one of the biggest nuclear crises of our century – though optimism is not on the rise these days – many pundits are brought to think: why is Trump willing to get to yes with North Korea while stubbornly throwing away an already achieved, and functioning, nuclear deal with Iran?