Global commentary: Hanoi summit sparks hope for a united Korea

Last week, President Donald Trump was in Hanoi, Vietnam, to speak with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. This was the second round of talks that aimed to denuclearize the peninsula in Southeast Asia. Although this summit ended abruptly and with little progress made, there is still hope of a bright future for both Koreas.

The first summit with North Korea took place in Singapore in June 2018, with Trump at the helm. Despite his exorbitant victory tweets, not much was gained from the first meeting. They did agree, however, to meet a second time in Hanoi to try again.

The White House released a document containing a joint statement made by Trump and Kim from the summit. It states that North Korea, “commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” If that sounds uninspiring, it’s because it is.

This is not the first time they’ve “agreed” to get rid of their nuclear weapons technology. According to the Arms Control Association, North Korea has said this multiple times to multiple presidents and yet, nothing has changed.

Although there was no real progress at the first meeting, no sitting U.S. president has ever negotiated with North Korea’s leader in person, which makes the meeting itself truly unprecedented.

Thanks to Trump’s summit meetings, Korean leaders have met face to face once again. South Korean President, Moon Jae-in met with Kim in April 2018 – the first time the two sat down to talk in 11 years.

According to CNN, they have made progress of their own, including the proposition to formally end the Korean War. Furthermore, the two nations plan to submit a bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics, create roads and railroads to link one another, as well as reduce the forces at the Demilitarized Zone.

The demands Trump made at the Hanoi Summit were for North Korea to surrender all nuclear weapon capabilities in exchange for the U.S. to lift the sanctions that have crippled North Korea’s economy.

The New York Times reported that North Korea rejected this offer, once again. In true Trump fashion, he ignored his top officials John Bolton and Mike Pompeo’s beliefs that the deal would not be accepted by Kim, and asked anyway.

Kim, of course, denied, and apparently counter offered with a proposal to dismantle a nuclear complex in Yongbyon, a vital part of their nuclear program, in exchange for the end of some particularly damaging sanctions made when they launched a missile in 2016, according to the New York Times.

It is not yet known if Trump will concede to Kim’s offer. Pompeo believes this would be a bad idea, as North Korea is known to hide its more serious nuclear facilities. The Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that North Korea has some nuclear materials hidden deep under remote mountains.

Both leaders have insulted one another in the past. According to Twitter and the BBC, Trump has called Kim “Little Rocket Man”, while Kim described Trump as “mentally deranged.”

Trump even nonchalantly threatened nuclear war with his boast of having such a button on his desk. Surprisingly, these feelings reversed when in a September 2017 rally in West Virginia, Trump announced to the crowd that Kim sends him beautiful letters and that they “fell in love,” according to Reuters.

From insults and threats to love letters, their relationship is bizarre to say the least. While he remains steadfast on taking away Kim’s nuclear weapons, Trump does not seem to acknowledge the lengthy and atrocious list of crimes the Kim regime is responsible for.

Perhaps Trump believes that crossing that bridge at this point will unravel the possibility of future summits, and he is adamant that the most recent talks in Vietnam will not be the last.

Opening dialogue with North Korea was taboo years ago, but today they’re happening again and again. Nothing is certain at this point, as North Korea has not actually given up anything, but there is hope that these passing, strange, years may be the last of a divided Korea.