Surprising news came down the pipeline this week, from one of America’s most public international enemies. North Korea is reporting, via officials in Seoul, that they may finally be ready to come to the negotiation table on nuclear weapons. The decision comes just days after Seoul’s national security chief Chung Eui-yong went into North Korea to talk with Kim Jong-un’s government officials. Upon his return, he reported that the tiny isolated country is interested “in an open-ended dialogue to discuss the issue of denuclearization and to normalize relations with North Korea.”
• The rumor mill has been circulating since this news first broke. Some media outlets are claiming that North Korea has agreed to permanently stop producing nuclear weapons. Others are reporting a total refusal, stating that Kim Jong-un reversed his decision shortly after.
• All we know for sure so far is that North Korea is at least agreeing to consider talks. This is a significant improvement over the heated communication between Trump and Kim Jong-un in recent months, and likely represents a positive shift in international relations for the current administration.
• What is most remarkable is that Kim Jong-un himself met with Chung; this is a marked change from attempted relations in the past. Previously, the notorious leader would typically send a military leader or representative instead. This may signal a willingness to be diplomatic.
• President Trump praised North Korea for “sincerely” making their best attempt to engage in peace talks with South Korea. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Trump would seek to meet with Jong-un in the near future or whether Seoul would continue to take the lead.
• Seoul and Pyongyang have also opened a hotline connecting government offices on both sides of the border. The hope is that by encouraging more open communication, it will inspire friendlier relations and fewer militaristic approaches. Kim Jong-un has said that he is willing to back down so long as he feels North Korea isn’t under threat from the United States.
• Trump also attributed his recent sanctions against multiple countries, including nearby China, as a driving force behind the shift. He believes the sanctions put pressure on North Korean supplies, forcing them to take a more level-headed approach.