Friendship with North Korea Over? 💔

 Photo: Marco Ugarte / AP

Photo: Marco Ugarte / AP

From enemies to frenemies and back to enemies

Recent developments between the US, South Korea, and North Korea took an unexpected turn this week. On Tuesday, North Korea abruptly cancelled a planned follow up summit with South Korea. Pyongyang cited recent US-South Korea military drills and National Security Adviser John Bolton’s recent comments as reasons for the cancellation. This was followed by a threat to cancel the June 12th meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
 

Two steps forward, one step back

Following last month’s meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un announced that he would begin dismantling the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Satellite imagery indicates that the North Korean leader may have kept his word. While many are calling this a positive sign, some remain skeptical. Skeptics claim the test site has been rendered unusable following multiple detonations over the years.



The right downplayed Pyongyang’s threats to cancel the June summit. They argue that the US will continue to negotiate with Kim from a “position of strength” and that the president has not changed his stance on denuclearization. They portray the upcoming meeting as “an opportunity for North Korea to join the rest of the world - electricity, food, [and] better job opportunities.” In addition, they justify the recent joint military drills, calling them routine defensive exercises that are a vital part of maintaining defensive readiness in the region. They also state that the State Department has discredited claims that North Korea has threatened to cancel the Trump-Kim meeting.

The left paints the recent turn of events as a premeditated strategic move by Pyongyang. They claim that Kim dangled the carrot of ‘denuclearization’ to buy his way into a high profile meeting with Trump. They point out that the president’s affinity for the spotlight has led him to invest significant political capital in the publicized Trump-Kim meeting. The threat of a last-minute Trump-Kim fallout and subsequent embarrassment may result in Washington accepting some of Kim’s new demands. 

Will Rocket Man give up his rockets?

Total denuclearization has long been Washington’s stance on the North Korean issue. While Kim has shown signs of progress compared to his predecessors, some claim that he may never give up his only bargaining chip. Pyongyang has long expressed displeasure over the presence of American troops on the Korean peninsula and may hold on to its nuclear weapons as a security measure. The US has been quick to turn down any suggestion involving the withdrawal of troops as they are vital to protecting America’s interests in the east. It shouldn’t be a surprise if Kim plays for a stalemate.

Meanwhile, in North Korea


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