Debrief Session: Trump-Kim Hanoi Summit
Summit had high expectations, but results were not as anticipated
U.S. and foreign media relayed different information on the summit, making the issue convoluted
The summit ultimately failed due to both Trump and Kim unwilling to agree on details of the deal
Freedom for North Korea at NYU presented a debriefing session on the Trump-Kim Hanoi Summit March 5th, 2019. Held at the Global Center for Academic & Spiritual Life in room 375, panelist Grace Moon briefly provided important precursor information, namely the expectations set by Trump himself prior to meeting with Kim Jong Un.
Despite high expectations for the summit, the outcome left little to be desired.
Both leaders had different goals in mind going into the summit — Trump wanting complete denuclearization of North Korea’s weapons and Kim hoping to lift the harsh sanctions imposed by the United States on North Korea. The deal was met with contention over the details, as North Korea allegedly requested a full lift of non-weapon sanctions in exchange for shutting down Yongbyon, a North Korean nuclear facility. However, Trump said a full lift of sanctions was not within the best interests of the U.S. Without a consensus with Kim, Trump walked out, ending the summit earlier than anticipated.
With media playing an important role in the discussion, Lila Rosenzweig analyzed the reports of both U.S. and foreign media in regards to the summit. Unlike the North Korean media, U.S. media focused on one of two things during the summit: Michael Cohen and Trump’s shortcomings at the summit. Reporters at the summit, instead of focusing on the summit itself, pelted Trump with questions on the Cohen hearing. Some media outlets undermined the significance of the summit by mocking it, which Rosenzweig found to be detrimental to educating the general public on what was at stake and what might occur from the failed talks.
North Korean state media, on the other hand, heavily emphasised the specifics of the summit from their point of view, stating that while previously Kim Jong Un and Trump agreed on a full lift of sanctions in exchange for shutting down Yongbyon, Trump proposed an entirely different deal in Hanoi. In exchanged for a partial lifting of sanctions, Trump wanted the total denuclearization of North Korea’s weapons, to which Kim Jong Un deftly refused. The discrepancy in how the U.S. and North Korean media interpreted the summit resulted in uncertainty as to what really happened.
Attendees asked the panelists why the U.S. was reluctant to lift sanctions and whether the summit would have turned out differently if it was willing to lift sanctions.
Wilson Cai said the answer to this question was more convoluted than it appeared to be. Because of the sanctions, North Korea’s economy has been severely crippled. China, North Korea’s primary trading partner, pressures North Korea to comply with the demands of the U.S. — an advantage Trump was not willing to give up. But Kim firmly insisted that the sanctions be rescinded in full.
Despite Trump and Kim Jong Un failing to see eye to eye during the summit, the desire to prevent a war from breaking out might be enough for both countries reach a resolution in the future.
This report was compiled by Anabelle Ortiz on March 10th, 2019 and edited by Jamin Chen.