Trump Moved by Kim Jong Un’s Vision for North Korea

Troy Young, June 29, 2018, 8:12 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump was apparently impressed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's new vision for the future of North Korea in their historic Singapore talks, a prominent expert here said Friday. In pre-summit meetings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang, Kim seems to have expressed his desire to turn the North into a richer country than Vietnam, according to Lee Jong-seok, a former South Korean unification minister.

His special envoy Kim Yong-chol might have also reiterated the vision when he met with Trump at the White House days before the summit, Lee said. "I think Trump wanted to confirm it in his one-on-one meeting with Kim in Singapore. That's why he showed Kim a video of North Korea's possible economic prosperity," Lee said at a forum co-hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the Ministry of Unification.

He added, "I believe what moved Trump was that Kim Jong-un is pursuing a new state model for North Korea." In other words, he said, Trump agreed with the view that Kim is willing to trade the nuclear arsenal for security assurances and economic development, rather than coming to the bargaining table "against his will" due to "maximum pressure."

And this was behind a joint statement that "unexpectedly" included a commitment to mutual trust, said Lee, currently a senior researcher at Sejong Institute. He predicted that Kim will not drag his feet on the implementation of the summit agreement even if it could take some time.

Kim is eager to develop the North's economy as early as possible via the lifting of sanctions, he said. Lee served as unification minister and deputy chief of the presidential National Security Council in 2006.

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