EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The prospective Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un summit has caused the Western media to focus primarily on Kim’s decision to initiate contact and Trump’s agreement to meet. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s role in organizing and advocating for the summit has been largely ignored.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has tried since his election to change his country’s policy towards North Korea. At first, Kim Jong-un was unenthusiastic about Moon’s initiatives, because they didn’t serve his interests. But once Kim had achieved credible nuclear and missile capabilities, he felt willing to accept Moon’s invitation to send a delegation to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
North Korea’s next step, after the smiling diplomacy that surrounded the Olympics, was to invite President Moon to a Korean summit and call on US President Trump to meet with Kim.
One might have reasonably expected that North Korea would send delegations to Washington to promote and coordinate the latter summit – but it was Seoul, not Pyongyang, that has been its coordinator and advocate.