Reimagining the U.S.-South Korea alliance
Thinking the unthinkable: War on the Korean Peninsula
Trump’s trade policy in Asia: A one-year review
[On the possibility of ongoing secret negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea] I am always wondering if my chain is being yanked. It could also mean Kim is trying to undermine Moon, who positions himself as a broker between the U.S. and North Korea. These two potential explanations are not mutually exclusive.
[Regarding the Pyongyang declaration] We should recognize that 13 years ago [North Korea] agreed to far bigger concessions. Kim is trying to turn back the clock and set the terms of what he is willing to talk about. These are minuscule moves on Kim’s part and we should treat them accordingly.
[Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement to reengage with North Korea] came hours after POTUS welcomed the outcome of the inter-Korean summit, so I took it as Secretary Pompeo reading the room. The statement also twists the actual wording of the Pyongyang statement to make it more significant than it actually is.
[Regarding the lack of detailed progress in North Korea's disarmament] I’m shocked at how superficial things have been...I think the North Koreans smell dysfunction and they see dysfunction in [President Trump]’s tweets and his compliments and his willingness to meet again.
[South Korean President Moon Jae In’s] idea was that you have these two wheels [of peace and denuclearization] connected by this axis and you’re just going to keep moving. There was always the fear that the peace wheel was going to move too fast and that denuclearization was not going to move … And I think that’s what’s happening.
North Korea has generally been reluctant to have more frequent, regularized [inter-Korean family reunions], preferring to use them for political leverage and to soften Pyongyang’s image. In this current scenario, I see the family reunions as a way that Kim is trying to show his good-faith effort to fulfill the pledges made with Moon during their first summit, keep the momentum going on improving inter-Korean ties, and also divert attention away from the nuclear issue. The family reunions demonstrate the real-life consequences of Korea’s division and it is unfortunate that politics get in the way of more frequent reunions, particularly given the advanced ages of the families waiting to be reunited. I hope that we can see more regular meetings—these are low hanging fruit for North Korea if the regime is serious about changing its tune. But I’m not going to hold my breath.