South Korea government spokesman hopes US-North Korea summit can put an end to the Korean War

South Korea's government spokesman Nam Gwan Pyo at Singapore's Shangri-La Hotel on June 11, 2018.
South Korea's government spokesman Nam Gwan Pyo at Singapore's Shangri-La Hotel on June 11, 2018.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a knowledgeable and well-mannered negotiator who wants his country to be regarded as a serious dialogue partner, a high-ranking official from South Korea's presidential office said on Monday (June 11) at an event in Singapore.

The official, who made his remarks about Mr Kim on the basis of the two meetings recently between South Korean President Moon Jae In, was speaking after a panel discussion titled "Peace talks and the Korean peninsula", organised by the Korea Press Foundation.

 

South Korea is not involved in the summit on Tuesday between Mr Kim, who is Chairman of the State Affairs Commission in North Korea, the nation's highest decision-making body, and US President Donald Trump, but has a keen interest in its outcome.

A delegation from Seoul is in Singapore, and closely monitored the working-level talks between North Korean and US officials as they geared up for the historic meeting.

"In the process of dialogue with North Korea, respect and appropriate expression of manners will be needed, and that was what was discussed among working-level officials," the South Korean official said.

Earlier at the same event, the South Korea government spokesman Nam Gwan Pyo told reporters that his government hopes the summit can put an end to the Korean War and the division of the peninsula.

"I believe that the arrival of the two leaders in Singapore on Sunday to kick off the summit itself carries a huge significance," said Mr Nam, the deputy director of the presidential National Security Office.

"Until the summit concludes, the two sides are expected to engage in intense negotiation but we hope the summit will produce good results."

He added: "We have come a long way and we are well aware that we still have a long way to go. I hope that tomorrow's summit can put an end to the structure of the world's last remaining Cold War and division of the Korean Peninsula. I look forward to seeing the door wide open to peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula."

Korean experts optimistic

Academics at the Korea Press Foundation event, at the Korean media centre at Swissotel The Stamford, were largely optimistic about the summit.

"Unlike in the past, I believe there is a high possibility of denuclearisation being successful this time," said Professor Koh Yu Hwan, a North Korea expert at Dongguk University.

 
 
 
 

He cited Mr Kim's willingness to meet for talks despite the progress of North Korea's nuclear programme which included the success last year of its Hwasong-15 missile launch - an intercontinental ballistic missile which can reach the United States.

"At the very point of war, they have begun talks," he said.

The North Korean economy has also worsened under sanctions, and Mr Kim is motivated to improve his people's welfare, he added.

He said: "If North Korea can resolve its hostile relationship with the US, it will be able to give up its nuclear programme. In the past, they claimed it was sacred but now, solving the hostile relationship is the key to everything."

Handong Global University of Korea political scientist Kim Joon Hyung said that it was a notable achievement for the leaders of North Korea and the US to finally be meeting at the negotiating table.

But for the summit to be a success, any statement released should include a timeline and an agreement on complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, added Professor Kim.

His fellow panellist, Asan Institute for Policies Studies research fellow Kim Ji Yoon, said: "I think the summit can be successful because Kim Jong Un flew here. Otherwise, there was no need for him to do that."

But Professor Koh also cautioned that the summit would be the first step in a long process.

"I don't expect them to come up with the entire road map or schedule or details, but I think we'll have the overall framework and the exchange of denuclearisation and guarantee of their regime," he said.

"Maybe we can look forward to, in July in Panmunjom, North Korea, South Korea and the United States meeting to declare the end of the (Korean) war," he added.