Backdrop to the scheduled inter-Korean and U.S.-N. Korea summits

남북, 북미정상회담 성사 배경

The attention received by that sudden meeting will easily be dwarfed by how the eyes of the world would be fixated on North Korea's two upcoming historic summits with Seoul and Washington.
To provide you with an in-depth look at the rapidly-unfolding developments on the Korean peninsula, we've prepared a series of special reports.
First up,... our Cha Sang-mi sheds light on how these back-to-back summits came to be.

"Hopes for an inter-Korean summit took off on January first 2018, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, during his New Year's address, suggested sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. But in the same speech, Kim Jong-un also reminded the U.S. that he has a nuclear button on his desk."

Just a month later, on February 9th, the leader's younger sister Kim Yo-jong came to the South Korean capital, Seoul, the first member of North Korea's ruling family to do so.
Kim Yo-jong wasn't sent just for the Olympics; she also brought a message from Kim Jong-un saying he's willing to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang -- a call for the first inter-Korean summit to be held in ten years, and only the third in history.

"The 2018 PyeongChang Olympics definitely played a big strategic role in setting up the summit talks between South and North Korea. It would have been a bit more difficult without the Olympics. The 2018 Games, in fact, might go down as the most political to date."

And early this month, South Korea's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, brought back some even more surprising news from a visit to Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-un (quote) “expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible," and a willingness even to halt his regime's nuclear programs.
It was an invitation Trump promptly accepted for some time by May.
But why did Kim, who last year was threatening Trump with war, suddenly suggest a meeting with him?

Experts say the U.S.-led sanctions on the regime have seriously begun to bite.
Exports of refined petroleum products to North Korea have been cut by nearly 90 percent,... putting a major strain on its economy.

"The U.S. felt threatened by North Korea's acceleration of its nuclear programs. And the sanctions on the regime were intense enough that the North couldn't endure them any longer. That's became the main cause of the proposed U.S.-North Korea negotiations."

Experts also credit the emergence of the liberal Moon Jae-in administration in Seoul.
But although the world ultimately wants Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs, it's unlikely that complete denuclearization willl come so quickly.

"So the one in 300 ratio of success to failure that's fairly common in these kinds of situations. It's not to suggest that the current process is doomed to failure, but it certainly will face a lot of challenges. Denuclearization would be a very substantial breakthrough if that were possible."

Whether it was the unbearable pressure from the international community or Moon's Olympic diplomacy, experts say it is time to focus on what's been achieved -- two imminent summit meetings, and Kim Jong-un's comments on denuclearization during his surprise trip to Beijing this week, his first trip abroad since coming to power in 2011.
Cha Sang-mi, Arirang News.

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