How much credit does Donald Trump deserve for Korean leader summit?
Trump's rhetoric got Kim Jong-un's attention, says former Republican strategist
Depending on who you ask, President Donald Trump was either instrumental in getting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table or had little impact.
Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean studies at Tufts University, doesn't think that the president's tweets and their hardline rhetoric were having an effect.
"'Fire and Fury the likes of which the world has never seen before': that threat was made on Aug. 8 last year."
Three days later, the president also tweeted that all military options were ready to go, Lee said.
Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!—@realDonaldTrump
"In late August, just three weeks later, Kim Jong-un's fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan.
"And then five days later, on Sept. 3, Kim had his nation's most powerful nuclear test conducted — a thermonuclear test that fractured the mountain above the test site.
"That doesn't strike me as the behaviour of a frightened man," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.
Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a historic summit on Friday where they committed to the goals of complete denuclearization and officially ending the Korean War. Trump is expected to meet Kim in the coming weeks, and has been credited with getting the leader of the rogue state to the table.
The progress may be less to do with Trump's bark and more to do with his bite, according to Lee.
"Many people have the misperception that U.S. sanctions against North Korea have always been very tough, even maxed out — it's simply not true," he said.
"Trump really is the first U.S. president to enforce sanctions against North Korea in a meaningful way," he said.
Credit owed to Trump: strategist
Likewise, Beau Phillips, a former Republican strategist, said Trump achieved more than his predecessors.
"When it came to North Korea, he made clear from the start that he was going to take a much harder line," he said.
Barack Obama "chose to turn a blind eye for eight years," he said, while under Bill Clinton, North Korea received hundreds of millions "in exchange for actions that were only momentary in nature."
"President Bush frankly didn't do much better," he said.
"Things are moving in a direction that they have not, if ever, moved before and President Trump certainly has to get a lot of credit for that."
"I would never argue that crazy is a strategy," said Phillips, who has been critical of the president in the past.
But "this sort of threat, this sort of aggression, this sort of-chest pounding and table-pounding," he said, is sometimes the only thing that an opponent like North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will respond to.
"And it seems to be working,"
Can we trust North Korea?
Lee is skeptical that the change of heart is genuine.
"It is a ploy that we've seen since at least 1972 when the grandfather — all of a sudden — put on a nicer face and invited Americans to come and visit him."
"The leader comes across as affable, not a raving lunatic, and quite reasonable," Lee told Tremonti, "and the outsider comes away impressed."
He added that "when you've seen Rambo I, II and III, by the time Rambo IV comes around you have a pretty good idea how it's not going to end."
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When the two leaders meet, he predicted, Trump will be "moved by his own hubris and his ability to tame this backward Little Rocket Man."
"Kim Jong Un will lie to Trump's face, say all the things that Trump wants to hear.
"Trump will come away from the meeting thinking that he has somehow emotionally connected with a North Korean," he said, "and be more prone to giving North Korea concessions."
Listen to the full audio near the top of this page, which includes a conversation with Tina Park about what the Korean summit could mean for people in both countries.
This segment was produced by The Current's Ashley Mak, Ines Colabrese and Beth Mariam.