Donald Trump wrapped up the much-anticipated North Korea summit by announcing a “very special bond” between himself and Kim Jong-Un that will make people “very impressed” and “very happy”.
The President also said the one-on-one meeting between the two world leaders went “better than anybody could have expected” and that they “decided to leave the past behind. The world will see a major change”.
Big words, but what was actually decided?
The official agreement signed by Trump and Kim is summarised as follows:
President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula
Which all sounds a little... vague. Mainly because it is, indeed, very vague.
What was left out of the agreement - as well as a number of things that happened during the course of the summit - have led some commentators to conclude the whole thing was a bit of a dud.
Daniel Russel, formerly the State Department’s top Asia diplomat, said the absence of any reference to the North’s ballistic missiles was “glaring”.
“Trading our defence of South Korea for a promise is a lopsided deal that past presidents could have made but passed on,” he said.
So why isn’t the impact of the deal clearer?
1) This Has All Happened Before
Speaking at a press conference Trump declared talks between the US and North Korea “have never gone this far”.
Only they have. Further in fact.
Anthony Ruggiero, senior fellow at Washington’s Foundation for Defense of Democracies think-tank, said it was unclear if negotiations would lead to de-nuclearisation, or end with broken promises, as had happened in the past.
“This looks like a restatement of where we left negotiations more than 10 years ago and not a major step forward,” he said.
2) Trump’s ‘Art Of The Deal’ Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
Essentially, Trump agreed to halt regular military exercises the United States holds with South Korea, and in return Kim said he would remain committed to complete de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
North Korea has long rejected unilateral nuclear disarmament, instead referring to the de-nuclearisation of the peninsula. That has always been interpreted as a call for the United States to remove its “nuclear umbrella” protecting South Korea and Japan.
Some, such as former Pentagon press man, Adam Blickstein, suggested this was less than a good deal.
3) Trump’s Memory Is Better Than Actual Written Records, According To Trump
Judging by a remark Trump made during the press conference, we may never know what was said during the meeting.
And if even we’re told, there’s no way to prove it.
When asked if he had a transcript or notes of the one-on-one meeting at which only translators were present, Trump said: “I don’t need to verify as I have one of the great memories of all time.”
4) Being A Brutal Dictator Takes Talent
Trump said he raised the issue of North Korea’s abysmal human rights record with Kim, and he believed the North Korean leader wanted to “do the right thing” - which made his praise of the dictator all the more jarring.
“He is very talented,” he said, adding that Kim’s ability to “take over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and run it, and run it tough”.
5) Don’t Call Kim Jong-Un ‘Fat’
This clip of Kim reacting to Trump making a joke about the two of them being on the large side is possibly the best thing to come out of the entire thing.
But on a serious note, the issue of Kim’s image is extremely pertinent. Just a few months ago, he was an international pariah accused of ordering the killing of his uncle, a half-brother and hundreds of officials suspected of disloyalty.
Tens of thousands of North Koreans are imprisoned in labour camps.
Today the leader of the free world called him “very smart” and a “very worthy, very hard negotiator”.
And within North Korea, the summit is likely to go down well.
“Signing the joint statement would show North Korean citizens that Kim Jong Un is not a leader just within North Korea but also in international society, especially with his position equivalent toTrump,” said Ahn Chan-il, a defector from North Korea who lives in the South.