Kim Jong Un’s surprise trip to China puts more pressure on South Korea than ever before

President Moon Jae In. KHAM/AFP/Getty Images
  • Kim Jong Un’s rushed trip to China shows how quickly events are progressing on the Korean Peninsula.
  • But speed may do more harm than good because past talks with North Korea have taken years of careful deliberation and planning only to fall over.
  • With Trump’s freewheeling and aggressive negotiating style, it will fall on South Korea’s president who will meet with Kim first to establish boundaries that will constrain Trump.

Kim Jong Un’s rushed trip to China this week shows talks regarding the Korean Peninsula are moving quickly, which could put more pressure on South Korea and President Moon Jae In than ever before.

With both leaders of the US and South Korea gearing up for talks with Kim in coming weeks, President Xi Jinping likely invited the North Korean leader to Beijing to strengthen the countries’ ties and maintain a crucial and influential role in potential peace talks. North Korea may have accepted the invitation to learn about how to handle Trump during negotiations.

Either way, events are happening quickly which could harm more than it helps.

“They are moving too fast for someone as disorganized and distracted as Trump, who has little knowledge or inclination to learn about Korea,” Korea expert Robert Kelly wrote for The Interpreter on Wednesday.

“That puts a huge weight on Moon to bring home a good deal next month, which in turn will constrain Trump from veering wildly off script the following month.”

Previous peace efforts with North Korea took years of careful and deliberated negotiations and got nowhere, so many Korea analysts are concerned that Trump’s free-wheeling and aggressive negotiating style could do a lot of damage in a face-to-face meeting with Kim.

Kelly believes progress on the Korean Peninsula might come down to the outcomes Moon achieves when he meets Trump, that will work to set boundaries for Trump to operate within.

“Let’s hope Moon is up to it,” Kelly said.