June 11, 2018 12:54
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Singapore aboard a Chinese aircraft on Sunday to attend a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. This is the first time in 34 years that a North Korea leader has set foot on foreign soil other than China or Russia. The last time a North Korean leader made such a trip was in 1984 when Kim Il-sung traveled to the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany and Hungary by train. On arrival in Singapore, Kim Jong-un met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as any normal visiting leader might.
Since coming to power, Kim has shown signs that he wants to turn his isolated country into a normal nation. In June 2016 he abolished the powerful National Defense Commission, which his father set up to oversee his disastrous military-first doctrine. Instead, Kim junior set up a policy-making committee that he heads and which his father had declawed.
Simply by flying to Singapore, he also sets himself apart from his father, who had a pathological fear of flying and could only get about by armored train. But if he wants to be accepted as the leader of a normal country, Kim must abandon his brutal totalitarian methods of leadership. Kim had his own uncle executed by firing squad and his half-brother assassinated in a foreign airport using a chemical weapon. Kim is also known to execute officials with anti-aircraft guns, his people are virtual slaves, and 80,000 to 100,000 of them languish in political prison camps. Not many countries will want to do business with a nation like that.
If North Korea is to become a normal state, it must scrap all its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and facilities. That will be the most convincing way to the rest of the world that the North is serious, and it will lead to peace on the Korean peninsula and prosperity for both Koreas. Kim's trip to Singapore should be the first step on that path.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com