Unlike the US, Asia gets Kim Jong Un

A show of support during the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. The writer says the summit signalled a seismic change - namely that Mr Kim wants to reform the North Korean economy - and that th
A show of support during the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. The writer says the summit signalled a seismic change - namely that Mr Kim wants to reform the North Korean economy - and that this is the development that could actually bring lasting peace to the Korean peninsula.PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore has just hosted the "summit of the century", as South Korean President Moon Jae-in would have it. Understandably, the world media has focused its attention on the agreement reached by United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with much scrutiny of North Korea's denuclearisation pledge and scepticism as to how far it will really go. American commentators have also been lacklustre in their assessment of the impact of the summit and pessimistic about whether it will bring peace in Korea.

Beyond this agreement, however, the Singapore summit has signalled a seismic change that Singapore, and Asian countries at large, understand all too well: Mr Kim, who is Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, wants to reform the North Korean economy. And this is the development that could actually bring lasting peace to the Korean peninsula and reduce tensions in the broader region of East Asia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2018, with the headline 'Unlike the US, Asia gets Kim'. Subscribe