Special Forum

The mood was decidedly upbeat in South Korea around this time last year: following the “historic summit” between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore, many praised Moon Jae-in as the “master mediator.”1 When Trump contracted cold feet just two weeks before his meeting with Kim, Moon staged a surprise inter-Korean summit to dispel their growing misgivings; the Singapore summit was back on schedule within two days of its cancelation. The specter of handshakes and hugs that followed were in stark contrast to the threats of “fire and fury” just a year earlier⁠—talk of peace abounded, and countless rounds of applause went to Moon, both at home and abroad. Moon’s campaign promise to put Seoul in the “driver’s seat” appeared more promising than ever.

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