Asia Minute: Diplomacy’s New Round on Korean Peninsula

Sep 5, 2018

Three ROK soldiers watching the border at Panmunjeom in the DMZ between North and South Korea.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

September is full of seasonal events. There’s Labor Day, the start of the National Football League season, and later this month, the United Nations General Assembly. There’s word this week that President Trump will meet South Korea’s president during that period to talk about North Korea; and according to South Korean media, there may be developments to discuss.

South Korea’s Director of National Security is headed north today to meet with senior government officials in Pyongyang. Local media report South Korean President Moon Jae-in is trying to mediate a bit between North Korea and the United States.

The Hankook Ilbo reports Moon might meet with Kim for a third time, targeting a three-day summit in about two weeks. The two leaders met previously in April and May.

Presidents Trump and Kim met in Singapore in June, but follow-up discussions have stalled. Trump canceled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest scheduled trip to Pyongyang a little more than a week ago.

Despite those disruptions, the U.S. State Department is expanding its staff dealing with North Korea. Stephen Biegun has been named as special representative to North Korea. Biegun was most recently vice president of international governmental affairs for the Ford Motor Company, and previously worked at the National Security Council under Condoleeza Rice and as a foreign policy adviser on Capitol Hill.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports the former acting ambassador to South Korea and the director of the Korea desk have both been elevated to new roles working on North Korea.