North Korea and Nobel Prizes

By Kenneth Dekleva

Dr. Kenneth Dekleva is a former physician-diplomat with the U.S. State Dept. and Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Psychiatry-Medicine Integration, UT Southwestern Medical Center and senior Fellow, George HW Bush Foundation for US-China Relations.  He is the author of two novels, The Negotiator's Cross and The Last ViolinistThe views expressed are his own and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, State Dept., or UT Southwestern Medical Center.

OPINION — While two former U.S. Presidents – Jimmy Carter in 1994 and Bill Clinton in 2009 – had made historic visits to Pyongyang, meeting with Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il respectively, last weekend President Donald Trump made history.  By meeting with North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-Un in an impromptu, hastily-arranged meeting at Panmunjom, President Trump courageously seized the moment, and took several steps with Chairman Kim across the DMZ.  He thereby became the first sitting US President to set foot on North Korean soil, a moment of historic and symbolic significance.  In doing so, he further legitimized Chairman Kim’s statesman-like role, while also empowering South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who had accompanied President Trump to the DMZ, following their earlier attendance at the 2019 G20 summit in Osaka.

Following their historic summits in Singapore and Hanoi, President Trump and Chairman Kim have relied upon ‘old school’ communications via “beautiful” letters with “interesting content.”  Pundits have tended to minimize the impact and valence of such letters, failing to realize that, lacking diplomatic relations, President Trump and Chairman Kim have had to develop creative ways to communicate.  This weekend’s meeting was initially suggested by a tweet from President Trump to Chairman Kim.

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