Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un shook hands Tuesday morning at the Singapore summit — undoubtedly a historic moment, as it is the first time leaders of the U.S. and North Korea have met in a tempestuous 60-year relationship.
Dohoon Kim, editor-in-chief of HuffPost Korea, says this is a really exciting time — as there is a very important local election tomorrow in South Korea, and the summit will have a major impact on the outcome of that election.
This is a Q&A with Kim.
Q: Could this be a PR stunt, or is it an earnest move towards ensuring the reversal of nearly seven decades of mutual hostility — towards denuclearisation and strengthened relations between the two countries?
Dohoon Kim: For South Korea, despite it being recognised as a publicity stunt, the historic summit represented real progress, because the meeting itself seems miraculous for most South Koreans.
Lots of South Koreans think this is the last chance to reverse mutual hostility and denuclearise North Korea.
About Trump's popularity, some Korean liberals believe that Hillary may have bombed the North if she had been elected president, since she's always been hawkish on international conflicts.
Q: Trump has described the signed document as "important" and "comprehensive" — do we have any evidence that this was indeed as successful a summit as Trump says it was?
Dohoon Kim: To be honest, it is hard to find a more solid sign. This meeting was pretty comprehensive. But Trump said the talks were a process, and that the nuclear programme is just the beginning. The possibility seems to be open just because it started a meeting with Kim Jong Un — which seemed impossible.
Q: Aside from the most glaring significance to this moment — which is the fact that a nuclear war has been evaded — what significance does this hold in particular for relations between North and South Korea?
Dohoon Kim: There was no mention of the specific schedule for the denuclearisation. The agreement did not include any breakthrough big deal or any concrete agreement. This suggests that there has been no more progress than in the past [attempts at] a North Korean denuclearisation agreement.
Despite the scepticism at the prospects, it is difficult to deny the historical significance of the talks.
The leaders of the two countries, which have been hostile since the Korean War, met for the first time ever — and promised to normalise relations exchanging promises on denuclearisation and security [in the region].
It is too unrealistic to think that such a big and complicated problem will be solved in one room at a summit meeting of two or three hours. It is unrealistic that the 25-year-old problem is solved in two to three hours, no matter how good the North and the U.S. are, and how decisive it is.
To ensure the crackdown, North Korea and the U.S. will have to meet once or twice more, whether in Washington, Pyongyang or Panmunjom.
Q: Who is this a bigger win for — Trump or Kim?
Dohoon Kim: I would say for South Korea.
South Korea hopes to play a role as a helper in this conversation and future dialogue.
Perhaps South Korea will play a full-fledged role in the dialogue between North Korea and the United States in the future, which is a huge leap for South Korea.
Especially when you think about the worst relationship between North Korea and South Korea in history — under the last two conservative regimes of South Korea.