It’s quite easy to read U.S.-based articles about the recent developments in North Korea with zero (or damn close to zero!) mentions of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and his work to use diplomacy to reign in North Korea. This is a major failing of Western media sources, and an incomplete read of the issue.
Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge that it’s impossible given our current information to deduce what the leaders of North Korea are truly thinking. It’s possible to make logical deductions, but, to a degree, it’s all speculation.
That being said, let’s revisit this mid-August 2017 article:
While President Trump was engaged in an uncomfortable dance around condemning white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, North Korea quietly walked back a threat to launch missiles in the direction of American bases on Guam.
That’s no coincidence. Experts think this deescalation — what analyst Robert Carlin calls “a decisive break in the action” — happened in part because the president’s focus has been on Charlottesville since Friday night.
While Trump hadn’t exactly been silent since then (who can forget his “button” tweet?), aside from some sanctions, Trump hasn’t quite been the “madman” that his defenders would like to believe. And while Trump has been dealing with his own issues in the United States, President Moon Jae-in has been forging bridges with Kim Jong-un. Moon Jae-in was putting in serious work with North Korea, and it is paying off!
Donald Trump himself has basically admitted this:
President Trump asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to publicly give him credit for fostering peace talks between North Korea and Seoul, The Washington Post reported Saturday. […] Trump reportedly made the request during a phone call with the South Korean leader on Jan. 4, just days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced he’d be open to negotiations.
Trump took to Twitter later that day to take credit for the talks, saying he’d been “firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North.”
Based on what we know, it would be naive to read this as anything but Trump begging Moon to give him credit for something that wasn’t entirely–or even mostly–Trump’s doing.
This is obviously an important issue that deserves more attention than this tiny blog post can do justice to. And there’s no telling if the peace agreement will actually work in the short- or long-term. But, let’s give President Moon Jae-in credit where credit is due.