Pyongyang Speed Dating
I was hoping to focus on another part of the world this Sunday, but Kim Jong-Un is just stealing all of the headlines.
As we await the highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump, news about Kim's "mystery train ride" from Pyongyang to Beijing to meet with recently re-elected Chinese President Xi Jinping has hit the press.
In the meeting, which was Kim's first overseas appearance, they discussed Xi's future as the indefinite leader of China, the various paths to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, and the economic ramifications of the international sanctions on the nation.
This is the first of a string of international appearances to be made by Kim this Spring. He has a meeting scheduled for April 27 to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which is the first between the two nations since 2007. He also has a meeting in Japan with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This meeting is nearly as significant as the one with Trump given the two nations' bloody histories. Additionally, Xi Jinping was invited back to Pyongyang for a follow up to this trip, but his RSVP status is still unknown.
This rash of action taken by Kim is certainly noteworthy and leads me to have hope that we might finally be on the brink of something here. I'm cautiously optimistic for a peaceful resolution to this situation, but I take anything said out of Pyongyang with a grain of salt.
Speaking of a Denuclearized Korea...
One thing to keep an eye on as news comes out about all of Kim Jong-Un's meetings with international leaders are the buzzwords.
The biggest one you'll see is "denuclearization".
Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the goal of these talks, and guess what that means? It means that countries like China and North Korea also intend for the United States to leave the peninsula.
Is this something that the United States should consider? Is it a proper sacrifice to make for the "greater good" or is it sacrificing too much of a strategic advantage for good PR?
And is this something South Korea even wants? Do they really want to expel the ~25,000 US Service Members who help to defend their homeland in the name of a unified Korea? Make sure you pay close attention to any quotes coming from Moon Jae-In and the South Korean Government. What he says and what he doesn't say will be greatly important.
And just to throw my two-cents in: While I am cautiously optimistic, my gut tells me this is all a farce. I expect Kim and Trump to meet and for Kim to demand that Trump remove the US presence from the peninsula. Trump will scoff at this and then Kim will be able to say, "Well, we tried. Off to the nuclear testing site!" and the tensions will be higher than before. I'm keeping my hopes high, though...