South Korean President Moon Jae-in criticized former President Donald Trump’s diplomacy toward North Korea and failure to secure denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula during his time in office.
“He beat around the bush and failed to pull it through,” Moon, who is scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden in Washington next month, told The New York Times in an interview published Wednesday.
Moon, elected South Korea’s leader in 2017 and now in his final year in office, helped broker two summit meetings between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un — in 2018 in Singapore and in 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Trump and U.S. officials ultimately walked away from that second summit in Hanoi and failed to achieve any long-term concessions from Pyongyang.
Trump and Kim also met briefly later in 2019 along the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. At that meeting, the then-U.S. president actually stepped across the concrete barrier marking the border between the two nations, making him the first president to set foot in North Korea.
Even after the Hanoi meeting fell apart, Trump was publicly optimistic about the odds of a third meeting and personally complimentary of Kim, despite the dictator’s oppressive regime, dismal record on human rights and threat to global security.
As recently as Monday, Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview that “I have a great relationship with a certain man that’s got great power over North Korea,” touting the “relationship that I developed” with Kim.
But even former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an ardent defender of Trump, acknowledged in an interview earlier this month on the conservative “Ruthless” podcast that he regretted “that we didn’t make more progress” with North Korea.
While Trump’s foreign policy toward the Korean Peninsula was marked by praise for Kim, it also saw the former president step away from annual joint military exercises with South Korea and order Moon’s government to share more of the costs for the thousands of American troops stationed there.
Moon characterized Trump’s requested price tag as an “excessive amount,” telling the Times: “His demand lacked reasonable and rational calculation.”
Trump’s post-presidential office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Moon’s remarks about him.