Donald, Kim bhai bhai
If the US and North Korea do manage to work around their hostilities, then it would be a historic end to their war
If one had forecast during the 2016 United States presidential election campaign that the person who wins it would end up stepping inside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea to most, you would have been laughed at. Many people in capitals across the world believed that we were just one step away from nuclear Armageddon and some very reputable international publications were trying to predict what would happen to the world after the Korean peninsula was blown into oblivion with millions dead in Pyongyang and Seoul. But the budding, almost bizarre friendship between US President Donald Trump and DPRK Communist Party Chairman Kim Jong-Un, with two conferences in Singapore and Hanoi, have left even the most cynical of veteran diplomats stunned. And now, Trump and Chairman Kim’s meeting at Panmunjong, the ‘peace village’ at the heart of the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas, has stupefied everyone, particularly after the last set of talks between the two men ended in an impasse.
What is even stranger about all these meetings is that the US continues to enforce sanctions against the DPRK, including seizing a ship recently, and accuses Kim and his government of breaking all sorts of sanctions, including supplying missile technology to Trump’s primary target of Iran. Technically, the DPRK and the US are still in a state of war, since the armistice that was signed on July 27, 1953, just ended hostilities, not the distrust. Trump and Kim aim to end that, and the former’s complaints about the US spending on defending its allies in North-East Asia play a role in all this. Trump possibly seeks validation, not just from himself but also from the rest of the world, that he is a good negotiator who finally made peace with the DPRK, something that 11 of his predecessors could not achieve. One mistake several countries dealing with Trump have made is to assume that he is a clown and an idiot, and that includes the Chinese, Europeans and possibly even the North Koreans. But he is a very clever man indeed who knows that alternatively playing the clown and the provocateur has been working well for him. But occasionally, like in Panmunjong, he plays the statesman as well. You never know, Trump, the statesman, might go down in history as a legend.