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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 2)

All Headlines 07:00 January 02, 2019

Hopeful message
Kim's speech contains warm gesture, warning for Trump

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year speech delivered Tuesday contained both a conciliatory message as well as a warning for U.S. President Donald Trump.

One thing that was different from past speeches by the North Korean leader was that it was delivered in a relaxed, indoor setting, with him sitting in a comfortable chair rather than standing and speaking in a huge square. It seems North Korea was once again trying to establish a new identity as a normal country on the global stage and distance itself from the image of the impoverished authoritarian state that the rest of the world associates it with.

In a speech that attracted intense media attention, Kim said he was willing to meet again with Trump but warned the U.S. not to test his country's "patience."

"I am prepared to meet with the U.S. president again at any time and will make an effort to produce an outcome that will be welcomed by the international community," Kim said. "However, if the U.S. fails to keep its promise to the world and keeps up its unilateral sanctions and pressure on our country, we will be forced to find a new way to safeguard our sovereignty and best interests of the nation and to achieve peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula."

Kim called the first meeting with Trump last June in Singapore "useful," saying he believes the leaders of the two countries shared constructive views on how to resolve their issues. "The historic first summit made a resounding transformation in the relations between our two countries and promoted peace and security in the region," Kim said. He also stressed that he held the unwavering position to establish firm and lasting peace on the peninsula as stated in the June 12 declaration, adding that his country has declared it will no longer "build, test or use" nuclear weapons and has taken action in this regard.

Kim's speech comes amid rising concerns about the stalled denuclearization talks between the two countries. Trump has said he expects another meeting with Kim early this year. Kim's speech reaffirms his determination to achieve peace on the peninsula and keep communicating with Trump. Kim's speech will hopefully serve as an impetus to expedite the second U.S.-North Korea summit.

While Kim's speech contained some hopeful messages for new possibilities, it remains to be seen whether a second meeting between Kim and Trump will be able to result in more definite steps for North Korea's denuclearization. It should be noted that Kim mentioned the possibility of a "new way"to protect his country if the U.S. retains the sanctions. We hope the U.S. and North Korea will continue efforts to narrow their differences. Also, Kim must keep his promise to visit Seoul this year for further progress in building lasting peace.


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