Kim-Moon summit signals start of normalization of ties between two Koreas

The meeting between North Korea's top leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month marks the beginning of the normalization of the relations between the two countries, according to a political commentator.

The Kim-Moon meeting is of a bigger historic significance than that of the first two summits between the then top leaders of the two countries, which took place in 2000 and 2007 respectively, Wu Qiang, a Beijing-based political commentator, told Sino-US.com.

The first such meeting between North Korea's then top leader Kim Jong-il and his South Korean counterpart Kim Dae-Jung in Pyongyang in 2000 came at a time when North Korea needed Seoul's help to revitalize its economy. And the second summit between Kim Jong-il and then South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in 2007 in Pyongyang happened after North Korea's withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty triggered criticism by the international community, said Wu, who holds a doctorate in politics.

Wu said that the first two summits proved to be less effective because the two meetings occurred in the context of Pyongyang suffering from severe economic problems and global condemnation, said Wu, adding that the two meetings were also held without the support of big powers.

Thus, the proposals put forward during the first two summits failed to realize the goal of denuclearization and were rejected by South Korea's right-wing forces, noted Wu.

However, the third meeting between Kim Jong-un, the son of Kim Jong-il, and Moon came after US President Donald Trump agreed to hold direct talks with Kim Jong-un, said the political commentator.

On Tuesday, CNN quoted a source as saying that Moon had convinced Kim to hold his upcoming meeting with Trump at the demilitarized zone separating North Korea and South Korea, the same location in Panmunjom where Kim and Moon met last month.

In Wu's opinion, the meeting between Kim and Moon paves the way for the Kim-Trump meeting, which is expected to take place in late May, though no timetable and roadmap for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has been designed yet.

The expert sees the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as a problem that cannot be solved in the absence of the United States, which is increasing its military presence in East Asia.

In fact, the joint declaration announced after the Kim-Moon meeting also implicitly refers to the withdrawal of the tactical nuclear weapons that the United States deployed in South Korea, according to Wu.

Besides, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula also needs help from China. A month before the Kim-Moon summit, Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping in an unannounced Beijing visit, where the two leaders reportedly exchanged views about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the thawing of the relations between the two Koreas. It was the 34-year-old leader's first trip outside North Korea since he took power in 2011, and his first meeting with another head of state. And later, Kim announced that he would adopt opening up policies to reform the country's economy. Some experts think it means Kim wants to use denuclearization in exchange for economic support from Seoul and other big powers such as the United States and China.

Wu said that North Korea and South Korea would make a compromise in an effort to normalize their relations, irrespective of the outcome of the upcoming Kim-Trump meeting. And the trend of North Korea starting economic reforms would not be reversed as it would consolidate the Kim regime and give a boost to its efforts to become a normal country, added Wu.


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