With a second U.S.-North Korea summit likely to happen next year, some observers say that the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s visit to South Korea, to which he agreed during the third inter-Korean summit in September, may also need be pushed back. A delay in the bilateral negotiation between Pyongyang and Washington will certainly affect President Moon Jae-in’s roadmap for denuclearization. South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae initially considered arranging Kim’s visit to Seoul for December.
At a joint press conference following the summit in Pyongyang, President Moon said that he “invited Chairman Kim Jong Un to visit Seoul, and Chairman Kim agreed to come before long. Here, ‘before long’ has an implication that it would be within this year barring extraordinary circumstances.” Officials at the Cheong Wa Dae have speculated that a second Trump-Kim meeting would take place around late November of early December, with the two leaders striking a deal on corresponding measures including an end-of-war declaration. Accordingly, Seoul has planned to adopt the so-called “Seoul Declaration” based on agreements in easing of military tensions and economic cooperation during Kim’s visit to South Korea in December.
Cheong Wa Dae apparently has a strong will to carry out its original plan to invite Kim within this year. President Moon’s visit to Pyongyang has driven the two Koreas to take matters into their own hands, so Seoul intends to give an impetus to the denuclearization drive by arranging a fourth inter-Korean summit. However, if a second U.S.-North Korea summit gets postponed to next year, Moon’s roadmap for denuclearization including Kim’s visit to Seoul may have to be adjusted, albeit partly. “Only after agreements are made following a second U.S.-North Korea summit, will sanctions relief regarding inter-Korean cooperation be reviewed,” said a diplomatic source. “If the two sides continue to play a tug-of-war, Kim’s visit to Seoul may end up producing limited results.”