When US President Donald Trump became the first American president to meet a leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in June 2018, it was hailed as a step forward in the peace process.
Shortly before that meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met his southern counterpart, Moon Jae-in, in an historic summit that saw both sides briefly enter the other’s territory – the first time since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The two also agreed to work towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in order to achieve lasting peace between the two nations.
Both summits, says South Korean-born, American investigative journalist Suki Kim, were a sideshow. At the October 31 club lunch Kim said that nothing had changed since the meetings, and that no steps toward denuclearisation had been made. She said rather than lay the blueprint for peace by disarmament, it was business as usual minus the missile firing so often favoured by Kim Jong-un.
And she said for the North Korean dictator, the meetings had proven to be a great PR exercise that had in fact legitimised his regime.
“When you look at it over the past year, what has really changed?” Kim, author of The New York Times best-seller Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korean Elite, said, adding that even the global conversation on human rights abuses in North Korea had quietened since Kim Jong-un increased his presence on the world stage.
Watch the full talk here.