On June 12, 2018 the leaders of North Korea and the U.S. shocked the world with an unexpected convention. Kim Jong Un, the notorious leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and President Trump of the United States held a summit meeting in Singapore. The meeting primarily discussed the issues of denuclearization, an official end of the Korean War, and the joint exercises between the Korean and American militaries in South Korea. However, the true results of the meeting are yet to be recognized in the disorientation of pros and cons.
Some critics argue that the summit meeting was an initiation for the continuation of meetings that will eventually lead to world peace. In the past, North Korea threatened other countries with the use of their nuclear power. For example, along with the announcement that North Korea will be sending their athletes to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Kim announced that mainland U.S. was now in striking distance of North Korea’s nuclear missiles. However, Kim agreed to the “freeze to freeze” policy at the summit meeting. In essence, North Korea will freeze its nuclear weapon testing, if the U.S. military freezes its military exercises in South Korea.
In addition, as Kim appears on the media more often, the world has gotten additional footages of Kim as a leader and a person. In the past, analysis of Kim were only available through media clips released by North Korea, or spies. However, it is now easier to thoroughly analyze Kim with the unveil of his mystery through the foreign medias. As media reports, Kim’s behavior presented himself as a gentleman instead of a psychotic totalitarian dictator during the summit meeting and his meeting with the South Korean president. By bringing along his wife, always presenting a smile, speaking in a respectable manner, and making witful jokes, Kim has changed the perception in South Korea and attracted positive views on himself.
Furthermore, the meeting brought immediate positive results to the relationship between South Korea and North Korea. Families who were separated by the Korean War 68 years ago had the chance to reunite with their lost family members. As 89 families came face-to-face with their daughters, mothers and other family members, tears filled up Mount Kumgang. Since the reunion process began in 2015, and only continued when the North Korean-South Korean relationship was favorable, more than 75,000 applicants have passed away. The elderly members of the reunions hope for frequent opportunities to spend time with their loved ones.
To dispute the positive influences derived from the meeting, critics are concerned about the media’s attention on Kim following the meeting. As Trump and Kim were presented as being equal, Kim’s legitimization in the global stage will disguise Kim’s totalitarian policies. His malevolent policies disregard the North Korean citizens. For example, 41% of North Korea’s population is malnourished, and two-thirds of the total population rely on the government’s food distributions. Even though the South Korean government provides North Korea with money and food through the “sunshine policy,” these resources are suspected to be used in nuclear testing, instead of health care.
With the official recognition of Kim as North Korea’s leader, opposing political forces may have been emasculated: solidifying Kim as the absolute power. Previous to the meeting, North Korea replaced its top three military officials. The new replacement officers are loyal to Kim Jong Un, and have experiences with foreign delegations. U.S. officials believe that the replacement was driven by Kim’s concern that the original three might take advantage of outside investments coming into North Korea.
In addition to military enhancement, evidences of nuclear weapon testing still remain after the summit meeting. U.S. officials stated that Pyongyang developed new ballistic missiles and the official nuclear enrichment site as Yongbyon has been upgraded. Satellite images captured on June 21st show additional plutonium production reactors as well as support facilities. The upgrade of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center contrasts Trump’s statement of North Korea’s initiation of total denuclearization.
The source behind North Korea’s rebellious attitude is China. After the meeting between Kim and the South Korean president Moon, Kim immediately visited China and reported transpirations to President Xi. After his recent visit to China in March, the recent meeting in Dalian was unannounced. The symbiotic relationship between China and North Korea remains valid and is portrayed as China does not abide the economic embargoes instituted by the U.N. and the U.S.
Though Kim’s efforts at the summit meeting are illustrated as positive for some, there is little evidence that North Korea will deviate from its traditional ways and keep promises of denuclearization. For example, in the 1994, North Korea promised to give up its plutonium enrichment in exchange for aid. Eight years later, they confessed their nuclear enrichment and practices to the Bush administration. The temporary peace that has been going on between North Korea, South Korea and the U.S. might resemble the fail approaches from the past.
In the following meetings, it is absolutely necessary to demand complete cooperation from North Korea with the use of strict policies of economic pressure and military vigilance. Trump and U.S. officials need to set clear protocols, and establish a way to check up on the process of North Korea’s denuclearization. Simultaneously, China needs to pause its support for North Korea’s rebellious attitude. With successful summit meetings in the future, the world’s biggest rebel will be settled into world peace