posted on: Thursday March 7, 2019
Kelly Martella ’21
On Feb. 27, United States President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea met for a summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. This was the second meeting between the two leaders following the historic Singapore Summit in June 2018.
The first meeting marked a new relationship between the countries as Trump and Kim agreed to work towards peaceful relations, including denuclearization and security protections. However, the recent Hanoi Summit did not end on such positive terms.
The summit abruptly ended on Feb. 28, after both sides failed to reach an agreement on denuclearization. Trump cited sanctions as the issue of contention; however, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho claimed his country was willing to compromise on the issue.
Despite the contradicting reports, Trump insists that there is no hostility between himself and Kim, calling the departure “very friendly.” Trump further believes the summit was a productive step forward for United States-North Korea relations, tweeting on March 1, “We had very substantive negotiations with Kim Jong-Un—we know what they want and they know what we must have.”
Although no policy changes were made, the meeting still made headlines. One of the most noteworthy moments was Trump’s comments about Otto Warmbier—the college student who died in 2017 after being held in North Korean custody for attempted theft.
Trump, who was instrumental in Warmbier’s return to the United States, seemed to divert from his originally harsh stance on the North Korean authorities. He said on Feb. 27, “I believe something very bad happened to him. I don’t think leadership knew about it.”
The comment was met with criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, many of whom blame Kim for his involvement in the 22-year-old’s death.
Warmbier’s family also expressed frustration with the President’s moderate tone and reiterated that they hold the regime responsible.
Upon his return to the U.S., Trump attempted to clarify his comment within the context of the summit. He called it a “very delicate balance,” adding that “in one way I have to negotiate and the way I love Mr. and Mrs. Warmbier and I love Otto.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who accompanied the President to the summit, also clarified to the press that “the North Korean regime is responsible.”
There are currently no plans in place for a future meeting, but neither country has ruled out the potential for another summit. Summing up his stance and future possibilities, President Trump tweeted, “relationship [with Kim Jong Un] very good, let’s see what happens!”