Sohn: Clinging to hope with North Korea

Sohn: Clinging to hope with North Korea

June 13th, 2018 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un of North Korea leave a document-signing ceremony in Singapore. (Anthony Wallace/Pool via The New York Times)

Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE

We have to hope for the best.

We have to pray the reality-show handshakes and photo opportunities move beyond political hype to become reasonable, verifiable progress of real and verifiable denuclearization in North Korea.

We have to hope that President Donald Trump has done something right, even though we fear he's given away the store.

He is our president, after all.

But this is our country. Our home. Our planet.

Yet, could someone please explain how halting American war games held routinely with South Korea because they are, in Trump's words, "expensive" and "provocative" (he borrowed Kim Jong Un's propaganda word) is in the interest of either America or South Korea? Trump didn't even mention that giveaway with either the Pentagon or South Korean President Moon Jae-in. They were stunned.

Would someone please explain the cherry Trump plopped atop of that ice cream when he added during his post-summit press conference that he still hoped at some point to withdraw the 28,500 American troops from their protection detail in South Korea.

For its part, North Korea merely "reaffirmed" a goal of "denuclearization," which it first announced in 1992.

Trump called the statement he signed with Chairman Kim of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea "comprehensive." The New York Times termed it "strikingly spare."

The statement, in its entirety, is about 400 words — about the length of this editorial.

Denuclearization is mentioned three times: "President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

The statement goes to say the new U.S. and North Korea relations "can promote" the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and the DPRK commits "to work toward" denuclearization.

We don't know what Trump's "security guarantees" are. There is absolutely no mention of verification procedures for denuclearization. There is a mention of "follow-on negotiations" to be led by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant high-level North Korean official "at the earliest possible date" to "implement the outcomes" of the summit.

Kim got what he wanted. The president met with him, even praised him, made a pact with him — and made no mention of the fact that the Trump administration has previously said Kim had his own half-brother killed and enslaves his people.

All that said, imagine the storylines Kim will go home to; "Kim forces U.S. president to cancel war games, accept North Korea as a nuclear equal and to provide security guarantees."

In return we got Kim's commitment "to work toward" denuclearization.

It seems the barest of a beginning.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com