Historic meeting at the Demilitarized Zone

After a handshake with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the Demilitarized Zone Donald Trump became the first US president to set foot on North Korean soil. Afterwards the two leaders had a conversation in which they agreed to resume the stalled de-nuclearisation talks. Is it all just a big show or could it give peace on the Korean Peninsula a real boost?

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Korea Joongang Daily (KR) /

Building mutual trust

The significance of the meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un should not be underestimated, the Korea Joongang Daily stresses:

“They sat down together in Panmunjom, where the United States and North Korea signed the armistice to end the Korea War in 1953. The handshake between the leaders of the United States and North Korea in the same location can promise a new era of peace. Such a hurriedly arranged meeting naturally could not bring any dramatic breakthrough in bilateral relations or the denuclearization process. Still, the more the leaders meet, the greater the chances are for a positive outcome in the future. Mutual trust is built through constant contact and communication.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Putting on a show for core voters

Trump's diplomacy is perfectly suited to the era of the smartphone, columnist Gianni Riotta writes in La Stampa:

“Gestures can never replace reforms. This rule also goes for Korea, where Trump's impulsive diplomacy is not about to reduce Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal. ... Nevertheless Trump's ability to translate all the show into a consensus among Republican core voters can't be ignored. ... Key figures among the US Democrats, as well as many European leaders, rightly appreciate deep analyses with charts and footnotes written by experts and published in quality journals and websites. But the appeal of such sources is hard to convey to people who are used to the frenetic pace of the smartphone.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Trump prefers dictators

The US president's tour of Asia in the wake of the G20 summit makes one thing clear, Le Monde points out:

“Trump prefers dictators. Theatre is one of his diplomatic tools. He pushes to the extreme the possibilities offered by today's immediate, universal dissemination of images. ... His Asia tour provides another example of the president's huge talent as an entertainer. ... With Kim Jong-un 'things can happen', Trump said after they met. It's hard to contradict him there. Nevertheless this weekend leaves the very disturbing impression that the American president is much more attentive to autocratic dictators of all stripes than he is to his traditional allies.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Kim now among most powerful leaders

Another meeting with Kim was the most unwise thing Trump could have done, De Volkskrant criticises:

“The danger is that Trump will only enhance respect for the North Korean leader with this meeting. The communist dictator must not come to be seen as one of the world's powerful leaders even though his people are living in poverty and 150,000 North Koreans are in penal camps. Kim Jong-un will also surely be aware that he will lose this status immediately as soon as he renounces his nuclear weapons.”

Pravda (SK) /

Enough showbiz!

Trump should change his strategy, Pravda urges:

“Politics doesn't work like a reality show, not even in the world of Donald Trump. At their first meeting in Singapore the two reached an agreement that didn't oblige anyone to anything. The second meeting in Hanoi ended without Trump being able to talk Kim out of his nuclear programme. Of course the third meeting was better than a battle or a war. However, pure 'relations' between leaders with neither treaties nor agreements can't prevent either battles or wars. To do this the world needs leaders who shoulder their responsibilities - not bombastic television viewer ratings.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Utterly discouraging for North Koreans

The North Koreans are seeing all their hopes dashed, Remco Breuker, professor of Korean Studies, writes in De Morgen:

“Because the president of the most powerful country in the world has recognised the North Korean leader as legitimate for the third time. ... It is hard to describe how discouraging these images are for the North Koreans, who want a little more freedom, a little less hunger and less oppression. ... Trump trampled on [the glimmer of hope] when he set foot in North Korea and greeted Kim Jong-un as a dear friend. Which North Korean wouldn't lose courage when he sees how the president of the 'land of the free' publicly supports their leader, exactly as the North Korean propaganda machine would have it?”