World

Kim will be happy after his summit with Trump

North Korean leader, US President sign agreement after meeting at summit

Wearing that uniquely styled jet-black hair and Mao suit, boyish Kim Jong Un has featured regularly on international TV screens over the last few months.

There has been unprecedented coverage of the leader of what was long held to be a pariah state ever since he made a move for peace, and when the North Korean walked towards South Korean president Moon Jae In and shook hands at the demilitarised zone in Panmunjon on April 27, the moment reveberated around the world.

Today, Mr Kim is content that he has made an indelible mark on the global stage, say some experts, after his summit with US President Donald Trump here yesterday.

The first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, at the Capella hotel in Sentosa, ended with the two leaders signing a joint statement on four points of agreement.

Ms Sarah Teo, associate research fellow at Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), believes Mr Kim has come away from the summit gaining much more.

She told The New Paper: "I think he has successfully shown that he can carry himself as well as, or at least as an equal to, the leader of the superpower of the world, the US.

"I think that is part of his larger goal of bringing North Korea into the international community, to be recognised as a normal legitimate state, because I think if the focus of economic reform continues for North Korea, that is one of the routes they can use to get there."

The joint statement by the two leaders says that Mr Kim's nation is committed to working towards complete denuclearisation.

In return, the US will "provide security guarantees" to North Korea.

The agreement also saw both countries committing to establishing new relations and building a lasting and stable peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh, director of the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, said Mr Kim has sacrificed little in signing the agreement.

"The four clauses he agreed to are exactly those that have already been highlighted by state media... His thumbprint is on the document. The phrases almost look like a translation into English from Korean," he said.

The summit agreement has been criticised for its lack of substance and a timeline on resolving the North Korean denuclearisation issue.

American Alex Capri, a visiting senior fellow at NUS Business School, agreed that Mr Kim had scored major publicity points.

He said: "Mr Kim appeared with the US president for the first time in history, and the president flew halfway around the world to meet him.

"There is also nothing specifically in the document that says North Korea is going to completely eradicate nuclear weapons.

"There's nothing there that Mr Kim cannot agree with... both men scored major points (in publicity terms), even if the process can realistically go on for years."

There is a school of thought, though, that believes the summit represents a necessary first step in a long process.

Associate research fellow at RSIS Shawn Ho said: "The US might not have got what they wanted with regards to complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation. But the meeting itself... sets the US-North Korean relationship on a different trajectory. Communication channels are now open, not just between both men, but their senior officials."

Dr Alan Chong of RSIS described the summit as a "good start", and said: "You must watch for deeds, not words, in the aftermath. The North Koreans have been known to tear up agreements or go back on agreements."

He added: "Yes, this is a day to be remembered positively, but let's be cautious. I'll say it's one step forward for peace on the Korean Peninsula and one step forward for peace across Asia, insofar as it's linked to the Korean standoff."

What is certain, though, is that Mr Kim, who is in his mid-30s, has written himself into the history books.

He was the first North Korean leader to cross into the South when he met President Moon in April.

His trip here was the furthest he has travelled as leader of his country, and yesterday, he covered new ground by meeting Mr Trump.

Over the last few days he has flashed his smile and shaken many hands, and taken in the sights in Singapore, keeping TV crews and photographers busy.

He has certainly made the world take notice, as he walks the international stage.

WORLD