A pair of ultra-chummy Kim Jong-un and Trump impersonators got booted from the Olympics, but few people ever imagined the two leaders truly hanging in the same room together. Yet following the announcement of the U.S. levying the “heaviest sanctions ever” (aimed towards pushing Kim Jong-un to halt his nuclear program) on its foe, it sounds like North Korea actually wants to talk to the U.S. It still sounds unbelievable in light of Mike Pence’s stony Olympic antics next to Kim Jong-un’s sister, but perhaps there’s a chance.
The news also arrives after Ivanka Trump visited South Korea and called for “maximum pressure” on its northerly peninsula neighbor. CNN reports on a statement from South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who says he exchanged words with the North Korean Olympic delegation while urging discussions with the U.S. “as soon as possible.” In response, North Korea communicated that they were down to talk:
Moon said the North Koreans indicated they were willing to talk with the U.S., and agreed that “the inter-Korean relationship and North Korea-US relationship should develop together.”
Moon met for an hour with the North Korean delegation at an undisclosed location in Pyeongchang at 5 p.m. local time Sunday, three hours before South Korea prepared to host the carefully-choreographed closing ceremony.
Before anyone gets too excited about this, there’s a very slight likelihood that this willingness would turn into a face-to-face showdown between Kim Jong-un and President Trump. No one on the U.S. side would want the optics of this East-West rap beef (between “Rocket Man” and “Dotard”) playing out in would-be historic talks. Nor does it seem like Pence would be a good choice, given his chilly attitude toward Korea during the recent opening ceremony. Obviously, it’s a job for Rex Tillerson, but it’s anyone’s guess if talks actually materialize. One Trump tweet could destroy any Olympic good will.