THE AFRICA BAZAAR MAGAZINE
JUNE 30, 2019
U.S. President Donald J. Trump became the first U.S. sitting President to visit North Korea, marking a significant historical moment for U.S. – North Korea relationship as well as world diplomacy.
The historic moment took place Sunday afternoon at a demilitarized zone between the border of South and North Korea when President Trump, who is in east Asia for four days and recently concluded meetings with other prominent world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Japan before traveling to South Korea for a meeting and then make a stop at the South-North Korea border, walked a few steps from the South Korean side to cross over to the North Korean side where he met with North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong-Un.
The demilitarized zone was put in place following the end of the Korean war, which was fought in 1950-53 between North and South Korea. The U.S, through the United Nations troops, intervened in the war on behalf of the South Korea by invading North Korea. The DMZ zone was built for international diplomacy, a safe space where hostile parties could come together. While several U.S. presidents have visited the DMZ, including President Trump’s predecessor President Barack Obama in 2012, no U.S. president has ever taken the step to cross over to North Korean territory until President Trump did on Sunday.
President Trump and Chairman Kim Un shook hands and greeted each other affably before walking together from the North Korean side over to the South Korean side, and then walked a few steps together to the Freedom House, a diplomacy meeting space, for further discussions.
During a press meeting given by the two leaders at the Freedom House and attended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Special Adviser to the President Ivanka Trump, and other Trump administration’s senior officials, President Trump described the historical visit to the North Korean border as a historical moment, thanking Chairman Kim Jong Un for reciprocating the gesture.
“It’s a special moment, I think really, as Chairman Kim Un said it’s a historical moment that we are making. I want to thank Chairman Kim,” said President Trump. “When I put out the social media notification, if he didn’t show up, it will make me look very bad so I appreciate it. We have developed a great relationship, I really think we go back two and half years. The relationship that we developed mean so much to many people. It’s an honor to meet with you and honor that you stepped over that line and I was proud to step over that line, I thought you might do that, I wasn’t sure but I was ready to do it and I want to thank you, it has been great. Very historic moment was happy to do it.”
The symbolic visit, which was unimaginable for many political experts and world leaders given the capricious nature of friendship between these two leaders, also marks their third face-to-face meetings since the two parties began denuclearization and peace negotiations talks.
It also is an unprecedented presidential achievement for President Trump as well as a major world recognization for Chairman Kim, who for the most part has been ostracized from major international platform and is currently under U.S. sanctions due to his nuclear weapon activities.
Until the denuclearize and peace negotiations started between the two parties, the peace relation between North and South Korea was tense, with an imminent threat of a nuclear war by North Korea. President Trump didn’t help the matter initially when he began excoriating Mr. Kim on social media, calling him “little rocket man.” However, their relationship improved, ushered by President Trump’s relationship with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
South Korea has served as a mediator between the two leaders. Even that relationship sometimes has proven uncertain. Just A few days ago, the North Korean leader sent a statement telling the South Korean leader that it was no longer needed as a mediator.
Whether or not this third face-to-face meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-Un will nudge the denuclearization negotiation talks further is yet to be seen. It’s however rewriting history and is designed to be for the history book.