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Getting to Yes With Kim Jong-un

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08.06.2018

SEOUL – Has North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong-un, made a strategic decision to trade away his nuclear program, or is he just engaged in another round of deceptive diplomacy, pretending that he will denuclearize in exchange for material benefits for his impoverished country?

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This is, perhaps, the key question in the run-up to the summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. Until then, no one will know the answer, perhaps not even Kim himself.

Optimists tend to believe that Kim’s declared intention to denuclearize is sincere. They highlight the fact that North Korea’s economy has changed fundamentally since he succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011. It is now more open, with foreign trade accounting for almost half of GDP, the result of a gradual marketization process that began in the mid-1990s. But with this openness comes vulnerability, which explains Kim’s active diplomatic efforts to prevent serious economic........

© Project Syndicate