In the story of North Korea, the basic theme has not changed since 1958. The Kim regime of then and the Kim regime of today have always been of the view that if they just hold on long enough and make sure that no one can dislodge them without tremendous risk then Korea will eventually be united under their rule. Anything they do or attempt to do is subordinate to that plan.
US presidents change, but the aims of North Korean leadership do not. By now, though the possibility of Kim achieving his objective is as remote as ever, removing him is also.
Trump has given no indication by his previous actions that when push comes to shove he would err on the side of action. You could describe his non-interventionist campaign rhetoric, and to some extent his policy in Syria as “America first minimalism.”
While US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Ambassador to the UN Nicki Haley all do their best to alternately do damage control for Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and add to it, the rest of the world appears ready to move on in America’s stead.
Last week during his visit to Vladisvastok, South Korean president Moon Jae-in had a great time with Putin discussing all things Korean, including this Joseon era sword given to Moon by the Russian president:
The two leaders reportedly even discussed a deal to build an industrial complex on the North Korea-Russia border, in defiance of sanctions.
This weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel got in the fray, offering German participation in any future talks with North Korea in an interview published Sunday.
Merkel went on to say with regard to using the Iran nuclear deal as a model that, “I could imagine such a format being used to end the North Korea conflict. Europe and especially Germany should be prepared to play a very active part in that.”
No doubt, China is also waiting in the wings to lend their voice to discussion, but that will have to wait until after the party congress next month.