That’s the query from the White Home in Washington to the Blue Home in Seoul — and maybe additionally contained in the Ryongsong Residence in Pyongyang.
Following the historic handshake right here between a U.S. president and a North Korean chief, who inked their names to a doc with obscure however compelling guarantees, the query emanating from Sentosa’s Capella Resort was what’s going to truly change on the Korean peninsula?
Moments after the summit between Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un concluded, VOA contributor Greta Van Susteren and I spent a couple of minutes with the U.S. president and his secretary of state, on the Capella.
Trump was elated and throughout the hour would make a stunning announcement suspending “provocative” joint U.S.-South Korean drills on the Korean peninsula.
“We had an awesome chemistry,” the president, talking to Van Susteren, stated of himself and Kim. “We’ll do enterprise.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed us, “it is an awesome day.”
The president has basically handed off to Pompeo the onerous work of turning a sparse declaration on denuclearization into one thing actually transformative. Many will query whether or not Pompeo, who a decade in the past was working an oilfield gear firm, is actually the person for the duty.
In Pompeo’s background, nonetheless, are indications of his capabilities: First in his class on the U.S. Army Academy, time served on the Home of Consultant’s intelligence committee, a quick stint as director of the Central Intelligence Company and two conferences with Kim in Pyongyang. Maybe he’s now as astute as any American official on piecing collectively the Pyongyang puzzle.
This correspondent — an observer of the Korean peninsula over 5 many years, resident in Seoul for a number of years and as soon as given the chance to frankly converse for every week (in 2013) within the North with KPA officers — has gleaned some perception into the world’s most reclusive state.
Not often can any assortment of some hundred phrases adequately encapsulate the geo-political conundrum. It’s tough for an outsider to fathom the deep emotional craving of Koreans on each side of the 38th parallel for reunification regardless of the huge ideological divide.
There may be Korean ambivalence in regards to the assist from and many years of meddling by highly effective outsiders at the same time as there is no such thing as a denying that the destiny of the Korean peninsula tremendously is dependent upon leaders and generals in Beijing and Washington.
What astute analysts of the North have realized over the many years is the Kim household dynasty’s unwavering perception in its personal rectitude at a tragic and brutal price to its personal individuals. Dooming tens of millions to cannon fodder or hunger will not be too excessive value a pay for regime survival.
Nor has any sacrifice been too nice to accumulate nuclear weaponry and ballistic missiles — an asymmetrical means to counter the firepower of the Pentagon.
Few intelligence analysts and students within the West consider the North Korean management will naively negotiate away this benefit. However dangling the prospect may quickly obtain a number of of Pyongyang’s long-term objectives — sanctions reduction, a peace treaty with america, wider diplomatic recognition, worldwide respect and, most significantly, an insurance coverage coverage for future generations of Kim household rule.
The actual unknown is whether or not Kim Jong Un is de facto the mastermind of all this or has been persuaded to take this path by a selected faction.
What could also be most stunning to outsiders is that North Korea’s hierarchy will not be monolithic. As in any elite society, even one deemed totalitarian, there are differing philosophies, character feuds and rivals looking for better energy, a lot as with every historic palace intrigue. This consists of hardliners who concern détente, and even the slightest thaw, will crack the monocracy with deadly penalties for themselves.
This we all know from high-level defectors, long-time diplomats in Pyongyang, fleeting first-hand observations by journalists akin to myself and the uncommon, dependable intelligence intercepts.
But, at this juncture we can’t conclude whether or not Kim’s handshake with Trump signifies a honest change of coronary heart or is one more ruse from a regime that has damaged each vital settlement it has ever made.
Both approach Kim is making a high-stakes wager.
President Trump, the self-described consummate dealmaker, and Pompeo, his novice envoy, categorical confidence they’ve accurately sized up Kim as a pacesetter looking for a path to peace and prosperity.
For now, regardless of the handshake and a signed piece of paper, the allied militaries of america and South Korea stay on fixed alert to confront a formidable foe they fought to a stalemate and armistice many years in the past however one now armed with weapons of mass destruction.
Ought to there be recent provocation or miscalculation, hardliners, each in Washington and Pyongyang, could also be telling their bosses “I informed you so.”
VOA White Home Bureau Chief Steve Herman was primarily based in Asia from 1990-2016. He made his first reporting journey to the Korea DMZ in 1981.