Korea summit: can the crisis be resolved?

The leaders of North and South Korea greeted each other warmly at the start of their summit on the border between their two countries. By attending the summit Kim Jong-un has become the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea since the armistice put an end to hostilities in 1953. Commentators discuss how this symbolic gesture can help to resolve the permanent crisis on the peninsula.

Open/close all quotes
De Volkskrant (NL) /

Change through rapprochement

East-Asia correspondent Jeroen Visser takes a look at what the two leaders hope to gain from the renewal of diplomatic ties:

“Moon believes that rapprochement is a precondition for enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula. By meeting Kim he is following in the footsteps of his progressive predecessors. ... The 'sunshine policy' [put forward by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-jung] was an answer to West Germany's Cold War Ostpolitik. In the long term, rapprochement and investing in the North Korean economy should lead to reform in the North and facilitate reunification. For North Korea, the summit must mark the beginning of increased economic cooperation with the South. When he came to power in 2011, Kim Jong-un promised his people economic progress.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Kim will want to hang on to the bomb

Lidové noviny questions whether denuclearisation is really the only way to resolve the conflict:

“Some people, including Trump, think that North Korea will give up its nuclear programme and submit to inspections in exchange for a peace treaty and normalised relations with the US. But Kim would be crazy to agree to such a deal. He'll want to keep the bomb and nuclear technology. That's unacceptable for the US, but it could be enough for Trump's allies in South Korea and Japan. For them a stable, predictable North Korea would no doubt be more valuable than one without nuclear arms. And precisely these details must be worked out at the inter-Korean summit.”

Iswestija (RU) /

Washington has no interest in a solution

Georgy Toloraya, visiting professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, posits in Izvestia that the US is secretly interested in maintaining the tensions between North and South Korea:

“The Americans are effectively domineering the South Koreans by using the nuclear problem as a pretext to speak out against a comprehensive détente on the peninsula. Because the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, near to the border with China, fit in well with the US's plans to maintain and expand its military presence in the region. Containing China is America's main strategic and geopolitical task - and the Korean pretext comes in very handy for maintaining the 'controlled tensions' on the Chinese and Russian border.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Trust is good, control is better

Any promises made by the North Korean regime must be verifiable, the Financial Times warns:

“Past experience suggests that South Korea should not deliver immediate economic aid, based merely on the promise of concessions on the nuclear issue. Verifying any nuclear disarmament measures by the north will be very difficult - since it will require a level of foreign inspection and intrusion that the secretive north has never yet been prepared to tolerate. Linking disarmament with economic measures as part of a step-by-step process will also be a challenge, but could also be crucial to giving any agreement substance and credibility.”