North Korean
Denuclearization
and Peace Process

North Korea came to possess nuclear weapons due to the CCP factional struggle. In April 2018, Kim Jong Un announced that he is willing to give up nuclear arms and set his country on a path of economic development.
 
Peace on the Korean Peninsula could prove to be a catalyst for tremendous change in China and the region. A version of “reform and opening up” in North Korea would create new markets and lead to vast business opportunities.

  Our forecast & results   

March 25-28, 2018: Kim Jong Un secretly visits China. We analyzed and predicted that the Korean Peninsula would be denuclearized and a peace treaty to end the Korean War would be signed.

March 29, 2018: We predicted that North Korea would take the path of reform and opening up.

April 27, 2018: We predicted that Trump would want North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons within his first term in office.

May 24, 2018: President Donald Trump announced that his June summit with Kim in Singapore was canceled. We analyzed that meeting would go on as scheduled in June.

June 15, 2018: After Trump announced that he would go ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods, we analyzed that the denuclearization process would be affected and China would hit back. Subsequent developments, most prominently Trump canceling U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to Pyongyang in August, have affirmed our analysis.

Since making our predictions about North Korea, the general trend of geopolitical developments point toward complete denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula by 2021, or the end of Trump’s first term.

Analyzing Kim Jong Un's secret trip to Beijing

  What happened  

  • From March 25 to March 28, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with Xi Jinping after traveling there secretly.

  What we said  

  • The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign is working. Kim is planning to give up his nuclear weapons to preserve his regime, but will face difficulties in shifting the national sentiment on denuclearization.

   TIMELINE   

   When we said it    

2018-03-26

  What we said  
  Ultimately, Kim Jong Un could have to broker a deal with Xi where he exchanges his nuclear weapons for a lifting of sanctions and keeping his rule over North Korea. How Kim sells this deal to the North Korean elite and people would be his biggest headache.

2018-03-28

   Verification    

  What we said    The odds of seeing peace on the Korean Peninsula are very high if America and China show Kim Jong Un sufficient “face” in exchange for him giving up nuclear weapons.

 

Xinhua reports that Kim Jong Un had visited China. In Beijing, Kim said: "It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il."

2018-04-20

At the third plenary meeting of the 7th Central Committe of the Workers' Pary of Korea, Kim Jong Un announces that North Korea will stop nuclear and intercontinental ballistic testing from April 21, 2018.

2018-04-27

  What we said    Should negotiations continue to progress positively and at the current pace, we expect to see a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula within half a year after a peace treaty is signed. The denuclearization process should not take more than two years at the most.

 

The leaders of North and South Korea sign the Panmunjom Declaration.

Analyzing Korean cultural and sports exchanges

  What happened  

  • From March 31 to April 3, over 150 South Korean K-pop stars and other artists visited Pyongyang to give performances. Later, North and South Korea fielded joint teams to participate in sporting competitions such as the Asian Games.

  What we said  

  • Kim Jong Un could be preparing to model North Korea’s economic liberalization after China’s “reform and opening up” in the 1980s and 1990s.

   TIMELINE   

   When we said it    

2018-03-30

  What we said  
  • The K-pop performances are another sign of coming peace on the Korean Peninsula.
  • Going by the PRC experience, the K-pop performances could be the step that ushers in reform and opening in North Korea.

2018-04-20

   Verification    

 

At the third plenary meeting of the 7th Central Committe of the Workers' Pary of Korea, Kim Jong Un announces that North Korea will concentrate its efforts on developing the economy and improving the people's standard of living.

2018-04-27

During their meeting at Panmunjom, South Korean president Moon Jae-in gives Kim Jong Un a USB drive featuring slides and video clips that show a “new economic map for the Korean Peninsula."

2018-05-11

A day after visiting Pyongyang, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize, the US is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on a par with our South Korean friends."
 
Pompeo added, "If Chairman Kim (Jong Un) chooses the right path, there is a future brimming with peace and prosperity for the North Korean people."

First Trump-Kim summit

  What happened  

  • On May 24, President Donald Trump called off a June summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un. After meeting with a senior North Korean envoy and receiving a personal letter from Kim, Trump said on June 1 that the summit was back on.

  What we said  

  • After news broke that Trump was canceling his summit with Kim, we said that the summit could still be on in June.

   TIMELINE   

   When we said it    

2018-05-24

  What we said    We believe that the Singapore summit could still be held in June.

2018-06-12

   Verification    

  What we said   We would like to point out that SinoInsider never wavered from our March assessment of the North Korean situation despite the twists and turns (Kim unexpectedly meets Xi in Dalian, Trump cancels the summit, etc.) leading up to the Singapore summit.

 

President Trump and Kim Jong Un hold a summit in Singapore.

Sino-U.S. trade war and North Korea

  What happened  

  • On June 15, President Trump announces tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

  What we said  

  • While the CCP would seek to sway North Korea and delay the denuclearization process, North Korea would eventually denuclearize under “maximum pressure” from the United States.

   TIMELINE   

   When we said it    

2018-06-15

  What we said  
  • “The U.S. may also be faced with a North Korea who may suddenly not be too keen to denuclearize.”
  • “We earlier analyzed that the CCP could be cooperating with the U.S. on North Korea in hopes that a trade war would be delayed. Now that the trade war is on, the CCP could find ways to see that North Korea does not cooperate with the U.S. on denuclearization, including relaxing sanctions and secretly playing up Pyongyang’s suspicions of the U.S.”
  • “In retaliation for tariffs, the CCP could opt not to cooperate with the U.S. in enforcing sanctions and instead find ways to aid Pyongyang, or drive a wedge between the U.S. and North Korea.”

2018-07-02

  What we said     Again, we believe that Kim Jong Un is serious about denuclearization. U.S. pressure would see that Kim eventually accomplishes the task rather quickly. However, it should not be surprising to see several twists and turns, including more “backsliding” after progress has been made, before North Korea is nuclear-free.

2018-07-09

  What we said    It is clear that Pyongyang remains very wary of whether it can trust the U.S. to live up to its side of the bargain post-denuclearization.

2018-07-22

   Verification    

2018-07-23

38North.com posts satellite photos showing North Korea had begun dismantling key facilities at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, a commitment which Kim Jong Un made to President Trump at the Singapore summit.

2018-07-25

According to the Hankook Ilbo newspaper, the South Korean government is hoping that the U.S., China, North Korea, and South Korea can sign a peace declaration as soon as possible, preferably in August.

2018-07-27

  Forecast  

  • The Korean Peninsula will be denuclearized and become peaceful

  What we said  

  • We believe that the denuclearization of North Korea and the signing of a peace treaty to end the Korean War could be accomplished during President Trump’s first term.

  What happened  

  • Since we predicted a denuclearized and peaceful Korean Peninsula in March 2018, signs of progress have continued to emerge. Although there have been cases where it seemed that North Korea was “backsliding,” overall geopolitical developments are trending in a positive direction.

   TIMELINE   

   When we said it    

2018-07-02

  What we said   Again, we believe that Kim Jong Un is serious about denuclearization. U.S. pressure would see that Kim eventually accomplishes the task rather quickly. However, it should not be surprising to see several twists and turns, including more “backsliding” after progress has been made, before North Korea is nuclear-free.

2018-08-24

   Verification    

2018-09-06

South Korean leader Moon Jae-in tells the BBC that Kim Jong Un plans to abolish all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities. Moon added that North Korea sees no reason to possess nukes as long as the safety of the regime is guaranteed. Also, Moon says that “there is consensus between South Korea and the United States that it is desirable to make the end-of-war declaration at an earliest possible date” to facilitate denuclearization.

2018-09-11

  What we said     Kim might be calculating that it is in North Korea’s greater interests to pivot to America.

2018-09-20

  What we said     we believe that Kim Jong Un has now set the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) irreversibly down the path of complete denuclearization. The Trump administration can leverage on upcoming negotiations to consolidate the progress made at the Kim-Moon meeting to advance the denuclearization and peace process.

2018-09-26

2018-10-08

In Seoul, Pompeo reports progress in denuclearization talks after meeting Kim Jong Un. He said that “both the leaders believe there’s real progress that can be made, substantive progress can be made at the next summit.”

2018-10-12

South Korean leader Moon Jae-in tells the BBC that Kim Jong Un plans to abolish all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities. Moon added that North Korea sees no reason to possess nukes as long as the safety of the regime is guaranteed. Also, Moon says that “there is consensus between South Korea and the United States that it is desirable to make the end-of-war declaration at an earliest possible date” to facilitate denuclearization.

2018-10-12

2018-11-02

The North Korean foreign ministry says in a statement that Pyongyang could restart its nuclear and economic development program (“byungjin”) if the U.S. does not drop sanctions against North Korea. However, the statement does not threaten to abandon denuclearization negotiations with the United States.

2018-11-04

In an interview with Fox News, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that he would be meeting his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong-chol in New York City in the week of Nov. 5.