Wellesley Professor Analyzes Second North Korea Summit in Media Appearances

Kathy Moon appears on a TV screen.
March 4, 2019

Katharine Moon was very busy last week: The Edith Stix Wasserman Professor of Asian Studies and professor of political science at Wellesley, an expert on U.S.-North Korea relations, spoke with several media outlets and fellow academics before, during, and after President Donald Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two leaders, who had met amid much fanfare in early June 2018, held one-on-one meetings and bilateral discussions about denuclearization and sanctions. On February 26, when Trump landed in Hanoi, Vietnam, where the meeting took place, Moon discussed early predictions and implications WBUR’s Radio Boston and On Point.

Moon said on Radio Boston that she anticipated “an effort on both Kim’s part and Trump’s part to act like there is progress continuing and that to keep the diplomatic doors open…the North Koreans have made it clear to Washington that they wanted some types of sanctions released, and I expect that the U.S. government will give some lower level of sanctions released, especially in the humanitarian realm but not in the very significant international finance, banking, and trade."

She added, “In turn, the question is, what would the North Koreans give? And that is not really clear. I don't see Kim giving up records of nuclear facilities and the accounting that most Americans in Washington have been seeking.”

As photos began to roll in of the two leaders meeting on February 28, Moon joined the Bloomberg Surveillance radio program, where she discussed common myths about North Korea. Later that day, she appeared on a panel at a seminar hosted by Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, on the topic “Hanoi Summit: The Start of Real Negotiations?

The summit ended unexpectedly early, the leaders parting ways with a lack of agreement on two key points: steps for denuclearization and the removal of sanctions on North Korea.

“[The summit] was successful in shedding clarity and realism on this very complicated issue for the three main countries involved—the United States, North Korea, and South Korea,” Moon told the Christian Science Monitor. There was “clear recognition that the charm offensive has no place in this, and the working-level people have to be in charge,” she said. Overall, the summit was “a start rather than a debacle. Diplomacy will continue.”

Voice of America, France24, and BBC World News also interviewed Moon over the course of the summit.