Trump's letter to Kim got a 'solid response' that saw much of Asia focus on saving the summit

Trump's letter to Kim got a 'solid response' that saw much of Asia focus on saving the summit


Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Donald Trump.

  • President Donald Trump's letter to Kim Jong Un canceling the planned summit on North Korean denuclearization whipped the region into a flurry of activity.
  • Trump cited North Korean hostility as the reason for pulling the plug on the meeting.
  • Since then Kim was noticeably calmer in a meeting with the president of South Korea.
  • Now a high level but infamous North Korean official is headed to the US.
  • Their meeting will be a real test of the nascent diplomatic bridge between the two countries.

President Donald Trump praised the "solid response" to a letter he set North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in which he canceled a planned summit between the two leaders.

The response has been many of Asia's top negotiators spend the weekend in a flurry of diplomatic activity.

Trump tweeted: "We have put a great team together for our talks with North Korea. Meetings are currently taking place concerning Summit, and more. Kim Young Chol, the Vice Chairman of North Korea, heading now to New York. Solid response to my letter, thank you!"

When Trump canceled the summit on Thursday, citing North Korean anger and hostility, it came as a shock to US allies and journalists in the country alike.


Two days later Kim had a surprise meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, an attempt to get the summit back on track.

In talking to South Korea, North Korea seemed to put aside its anger and hostility, agreeing to attend meetings with Seoul that it had previously canceled in protest of US-South Korean military drills. It also reaffirmed its aim for denuclearization.

Notably present at the meeting was Kim Yong Chol, a high-ranking official with ties to North Korea's spy service.

Kim Yong Chol has been singled out for sanctions by the US. He is accused of masterminding an attack on a South Korean navy ship that killed 46 people, and having been involved in a 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

If Kim Yong Chol arrives in New York, it will represent the highest-level North Korean to visit the US since 2000, NK News reported.


It would also give Trump a chance to hear from a North Korean official without South Korean figures mediating the message.

Former State Department Korea Desk officer Mintaro Oba told NK News: "At best, this will give US officials a better understanding of North Korea's position and steer the summit in a more realistic direction"

"At worst, tense meetings will cloud or poison the atmosphere, calling the summit into question once again. It's hard to tell which direction is more plausible right now."

"We can also probably expect that some in Washington may raise concerns about the optics of meeting with an official with Kim Yong Chol's past of provocations."

But Trump's team, previously thought to be unprepared for the summit, also saw a big change over the weekend.


The US Ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, traveled to North Korea for talks over the weekend. Kim took part in denuclearization talks with North Korea a decade ago and is highly regarded in that capacity.

As the summit approaches in less than two weeks, Trump's letter to Kim whipped the region into a fury of activity that appears for now to have saved diplomacy.