The Korean peninsula metamorphoses in 2018
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The Korean peninsula metamorphoses in 2018
Publication type
Alexandr Vorontsov 
Occupation: PhD (History), Head, Korea and Mongolia Department, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Affiliation: Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation

Compared to early 2018, the situation on the Korean Peninsula has changed dramatically, as if at the wave of a magic wand, shifting from alarmist expectations of an all but imminent war between the US and the DPRK that dominated the second half of 2017 to a spectacular improvement in relations between the main protagonists: Pyongyang and Washington, and Pyongyang and Seoul. This process has been unfolding for a little over six months, and has culminated in two summit meetings between North and South Korean leaders on April 27 and May 26 in Panmunjom, a village on the 38th parallel, held for the first time in 11 years, and of course the first ever meeting between US President Donald Trump and DPRK Leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, which was unthinkable as recently as in the winter of 2018. However the USA and DPRK official positions remain to be very different. Washington insists on North Korea complete denuclearization (CVID) first and only after it rewards are possible. Pyongyang is seeking for equal talk based on simultaneous steps of both sides respecting its security concerns. The only encouraging factor in all this is the suggestion that Trump and Kim Jong-un have reached some kind of an oral agreement, and maybe developed trust to some extent in their relations or devised a unwritten road map for undertaking mutual steps, and are seeking to abide by it by exchanging letters through these trusted persons. If this is true, the president’s personal diplomacy would be at odds with the official foreign policy of the US. There are serious doubts that this somewhat unnatural cooperation framework would last very long

denuclearization, sanctions, summit, negotiation process
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