The second summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been touted as a likely breakthrough moment for their ties, coming after their getting-to-know-you landmark encounter in Singapore last June that ended with no substantial result except a vague commitment to "denuclearise the Korean peninsula". The media had even been told to be ready for a signing ceremony, presumably of a document that might look something like a peace treaty to replace the current armistice announced in 1953. Informed speculation had it that North Korea would agree to at least end stockpiling enrichment material for bombs in return for the lifting of some sanctions.
Nothing of the sort happened, eventually, and Mr Trump emerged from the talks to say that "sometimes, no deal is better than a bad deal". His Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that the US could not convince Mr Kim to make a big step towards denuclearisation. Instead, he seems to have offered shutting down the Yongbyon nuclear testing facility, but the US deemed this insufficient to merit the lifting of sanctions. It also appears that the US seems to have ambushed Mr Kim by disclosing it knew of previously undisclosed chemical and biological weapons. Clearly, Mr Kim needed to reconsider his options, and Mr Trump's charm and charisma were not enough to carry the day.