Over the last few weeks the world has gone from the grip of election fever to
frankly election fatigue! Yes, it does appear that Biden has beaten Trump, although
with both still claiming victory and the courts still to come, who actually knows
what will happen.
The Trump presidency obviously ruffled a few feathers and at best could be called
controversial, but there were at least a few light moments, at least for us North
Korea watchers, such as when we went to the summit in Hanoi.
Prelude to the summit between the United States and the DPRK
Of course we cannot ignore the fact that before the leaders became, I dunno, but
friends things were not all that cordial. Trump famously used the term “Rocket
Man”, whilst North Korea made us all get our dictionaries out to find out what the
word “dotard” meant. Turns out it was a pretty funny word in the context.
From a less funny point of view the world also got probably closer to nuclear war
than when some plucky Cubans persuaded Khrushchev to place bombs in paradise.
But evolve things did and eventually things moved at such a pace that there was a
peace summit in Singapore.
The Singapore Summit
Sadly from a personal point of view, the Singapore summit caught me somewhat by
surprise and I was unable to go there. I was, though, able to pick up a
commemorative coin, which has pride of place amongst all of my other commie
And despite me not being there, the summit seemed to be a success; a moratorium
was put on certain kinds of testing and a second summit was mooted. We waited
with baited breath!
The summit in Hanoi
Initially all that was announced was that there would be a summit in Vietnam, but
no one knew if it would be in Da Nang, or Hanoi, meaning that various news
agencies were set up in both camps. It was also announced that Chairman Kim
Jong Un would be arriving by train.
After some serious deliberation and some insider knowledge, we duly decided to
run a Vietnam tour in conjunction with the summit. Why run a tour based around a
summit? We like Vietnam and this felt like it would be history in the making.
As fate would have it, I also happened to be living in Hanoi at the time, having
decided to flee there during the Lunar New Year, or as the Chinese call it, Chinese
New Year. It was truly crazy to see a few days before the summit, North Korean
and American flags being put up next to each other along all the major roads of
Hanoi– something I doubt I will see again anytime all that soon, but see it I did.
Touring the summit
The actual tour itself involved a lot of chasing of the main players, but with some
insider knowledge from journalist friends, we managed to stay one step ahead of
We were actually in the hotel that the North Korean delegation stayed in, but a
mere hour before they arrived. And yes, we managed to take some great pictures.
We also got interviewed by a number of newspapers and TV stations who felt it
rather amusing that we would run a tour to see a summit!
And then the summit was over…..
Sadly almost as quickly as it had begun, the summit was over. The main meeting
allegedly consisted of America asking too much, without offering enough in return.
We were not about to return to fire and fury, but sadly it did mean that the faintest
hopes of peace and a reduction in the suffocating sanctions on the DPRK were not
We carried on our tour, which lead us to Nha Trang and Saigon, enjoying the best
that Vietnam had to offer us, but whilst the trip was very enjoyable there was a
tinge of sadness about how little it had actually achieved.
A third summit?
Deep down though, we all hoped that there would be a third Trump – Kim summit,
with us even hypothesizing about where it might be held. My own personal money
was on Cambodia (link to article). Alas the world and Covid-19 got in the way and
it was not to pass, bar a brief step over the DMZ from Premier Trump. Did this
violate his travel ban (link)? Doesn’t really matter now?
Will there be a Biden – Kim summit?
No one can predict the future, but according to most the of the plans for his
presidency, it seems that North Korea is low down on the list of priorities for the
Biden regime. There’s also the whole anti-Trump element, which means that
because Trump did it, Biden is less likely to.
What will this mean for US-DPRK relations? Again no one knows, but you get the
stinking suspicion that it will mean moving back to the stagnant days of old. Still
everyone is talking about the “new normal” that will be after Covid-19. Let’s hope
the new normal means some peace in our time!
Rest assured though, if there is a 3rd US – DPRK summit, YPT will be there with