South Korea abuzz about potential visit from North Korea’s Kim

SEOUL, South Korea — Day after day, rampant speculation about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s possible trip to Seoul is making headlines in South Korea, despite no official confirmation from either government.

Many analysts say it would be extremely difficult for Kim to fulfill by the end of this year his reported promise to become the first North Korean leader to visit South Korea, given limited time for preparation and impasses in global diplomacy on his nuclear weapons. But others say we will not know until the year is over, noting that several previously unthinkable events have happened in the past months, including Kim’s June summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore.

A look at the status of Kim’s possible trip to Seoul:


The speculation

As the year draws to a close, South Korean media, experts and politicians are churning out reports and guesswork on whether Kim will come to Seoul by the end of December, or will postpone or even spike his plan.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in appears to be pushing Kim to keep his promise, though he said there is no time frame for his visit. After a meeting with Trump last week on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina, Moon told reporters that the two agreed that Kim’s trip would play a “very positive role” in U.S.-North Korea nuclear diplomacy. Moon suggested that Trump agreed Kim’s Seoul trip could come before the resumption of high-level U.S.-North Korean talks, including a possible second Trump-Kim summit.

One of the time frames that South Korean media say would likely be for Kim’s trip to South Korea is Dec. 18-20. These dates are based on a belief that the two Koreas would need more than a week of preparation, and would allow Kim to stay at home for a Dec. 17 memorial service for his late dictator father, Kim Jong Il. Also, Kim would be busy in late December preparing for his annual New Year’s Day address to outline his policy directions for 2019.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House, however, has denied that time frame.

The Blue House reiterated Wednesday that Kim’s trip can occur either this month or early next year, saying it’s up to North Korea.


The obstacles

So the ball is in Kim’s court now, but his propaganda services have been silent about a Seoul trip.

Kim might find such a trip less beneficial now than when he agreed to it following his third summit with Moon in Pyongyang in September. At the time, some experts said the United States could soon accept a North Korean request for jointly declaring the end of the 1950-53 Korean War as part of security assurances to the North so that Kim could find it less burdensome to make a symbolic, emotionally charged trip to Seoul after receiving that political concession.

But North Korea-U.S. diplomacy has since come to a standstill amid disputes over a U.S. demand that North Korea first disclose a full inventory of its nuclear weapons and take other significant denuclearization steps before winning major outside rewards. North Korea, for its part, now wants sanctions relief, the end-of-war declaration and other reciprocal measures from the United States, arguing it has taken some steps, like dismantling its nuclear testing facility and releasing American detainees.

Kim’s top lieutenants could also persuade him not to go to Seoul, citing worries about security arrangements for their “supreme leader” visiting an enemy state.

It’s almost certain that Kim’s trip would trigger huge daily protests in Seoul by activists, conservative politicians and North Korean defectors. South Korea’s main conservative opposition says Kim must first apologize for 2010 attacks blamed on the North that killed 50 South Koreans before stepping on South Korean soil.


Why a kim trip matters

No North Korean leader has traveled to South Korea since the end of the Korean War, which killed millions. There have been five summit talks between the leaders of the Koreas, three of them between Kim and Moon, but they all happened either in Pyongyang or the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom.

When Kim’s influential sister, Kim Yo Jong, and favorite pop diva, Hyon Song Wol, came to South Korea earlier this year at the start of his outreach to the South, their trips triggered a media frenzy here, with TV cameras and photographers following their every move. A Kim trip to Seoul would surely garner even more worldwide attention.

Seoul is the bustling capital of a country that Kim until last year repeatedly vowed to destroy with his nuclear weapons, and which his dictator father and grandfather wanted to unify with the North. Moon would likely arrange many emotional events, such as jointly visiting South Korea’s highest peak, Halla Mountain, like they did to the North’s sacred Paektu Mountain during their Pyongyang summit. Kim also might address South Korea’s parliament, after Moon addressed a Pyongyang stadium packed with 150,000 people at the September summit.

Moon said Kim’s trip would be “unprecedented” and contain a message of his commitment to nuclear disarmament, improvement in inter-Korean relations and world peace.

But again, it appears to be up to Kim, whose joint statement with Moon in September stipulated only that his visit to Seoul would come “in the near future.” Moon later said that means “within this year.”

Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, vowed to visit South Korea at an “appropriate time” after his 2000 summit with then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. But he did not carry out his promise before he died in late 2011, handing over power to Kim Jong Un, his youngest son.

A record breaking donation of nearly $9 million to Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada
A record breaking donation of property valued at nearly $9 million was made to the Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada by the Charles and Phyllis M. Frias Charitable Trust. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal. @bizutesfaye
Multi-agency DUI Strike Team focused solely on arresting impaired drivers
The newly formed DUI Strike Team made up of Las Vegas police officers and Nevada Highway Patrol Troopers have hit the streets looking for impaired drivers. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christmas Tree Inspection
Nevada Division of Forestry employees search for illegally harvested Christmas trees in local lots during the holidays. (Michael Scott Davidson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
One dead in a suspected DUI crash in east Las Vegas
The crash was reported just before 4:10 a.m. at Washington and Eastern avenues.
Vegas Homeless Remembered
Las Vegas vigil remembers 179 homeless people who died over the past year in Clark County. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A look inside Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory
Tesla's Gigafactory east of Reno produces the batteries that fuel the company's electric cars. Production has created more than 7,000 jobs, and the campus that includes one of the largest buildings in the world is expected to triple in size by the time it is completed. Tesla Vice President Chris Lister leads a tour of the facility. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garnet Interchange Ribbon Cutting
The Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the $63 million I-15-US 93 Garnet Interchange project. The project includes a modified diverging diamond interchange and a 5-mile widening of US 93.
State Foresters Hunt for Record Trees
Urban foresters from the Nevada Division of Forestry hunt for record setting trees.
Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like