June 23, 2020 13:16
Cheong Wa Dae vehemently denies allegations by former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton in his memoirs that the U.S. and South Korea were not interested in concrete progress in North Korean denuclearization, but were more focused on photo ops and churning out feel-good images.
Referring to the 2018 summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Bolton wrote that Trump was ready to sign a "substance-free communique, have his press conference to declare victory and then get out of town." Genuine efforts to get the North to scrap its nuclear weapons were not the only thing that was sacrificed for such photo ops. The annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises were also scrapped on a whim and South Korea's national security went down the tubes as a result.
President Moon Jae-in was also complicit in the "diplomatic fandango" that Bolton said was South Korea's creation. If the South's intelligence service had been doing its job properly, it would have known from the onset that North Korea had absolutely no interest whatsoever in scrapping its nuclear weapons. That means Cheong Wa Dae had to think very hard to find out what it would take to get Kim to consider such an option. Bolton is a notorious warmonger and has his own axe to grind with Trump, but the overall thrust rings true, and it looks like the Moon Jae-in administration was more interested in photo ops than in substantive progress in denuclearization. And as the leaders of the three countries smiled and shook hands as cameras flashed in front of the world, North Korea silently continued to develop and fine-tune its nuclear weapons and missiles.
North Korea's sham was exposed clearly when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang and returned empty handed. Kim would not have given Pompeo the cold shoulder if he had been interested in scrapping his nuclear weapons. Yet Trump let the sham continue and held another pointless summit with Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he ended up walking out of the meeting. Things did not end there. The three leaders held another meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom that was orchestrated by Moon. Looking back, it becomes clear just how useless those events were.
Trump, Kim and Moon were able to meet for only four minutes in Panmunjom. The U.S. and North Korea were apparently reluctant to have Moon join them at the border truce village. Trump wanted to hog the limelight, while Kim was not interested in dealing with the South. Yet Moon was quick to announce the "end of hostile relations" between the U.S. and North Korea. That was not just an exaggeration but a gross distortion of the truth. Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling party lauded the brief soiree as the result of the "courage and decisiveness" of the three leaders. North Korean denuclearization appears to have been an afterthought. Yet Moon still pushed the Americans to declare an end to the Korean War. But a meaningful end to the Korean War must be backed by North Korean denuclearization and peace, and the North is going in the exact opposite direction. The whole thing was a sham.
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