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KEI Spotlight

Getting from Show to Substance

July 15, 2019

In her latest column for the Joongang Ilbo, Ambassador Kathleen Stephens expressed surprise at the overwhelmingly negative commentary about President Trump's meeting with Kim Jong-un at the DMZ on June 30.  

She noted that responses to the DMZ Summit missed that "it was actually a neat solution to a real problem, that of how to restart diplomacy following the failure of the Hanoi Summit. If Hanoi exposed the limit of 'top-down' diplomacy, the 'spontaneous' meeting at the DMZ gave Kim a face-restoring way to get back to the table. Trump also edged away from the maximalist position he had taken in Hanoi, hinting at a readiness to discuss a more gradual approach to denuclearization, and empowering Secretary Pompeo and Special Representative Biegun by having them literally in the frame at the DMZ." 

Ambassador Stephens also highlights that it was the first-ever visit by an American President and South Korean President to the DMZ together, as allies, bringing a message of resolve and reconciliation. She welcomed this development. The goal now is to move from show to substance. 

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