(Asked by Sputnik on my thoughts that South Korea wanted to talk to North Korea face to face.)
I believe that there is a settlement in the Korean situation. And it is what the Chinese call the “double suspension“: North Korea gives up its missile and nuclear activity; South Korean and the USA stop their military exercises.
What many in the West do not understand (although they are starting to learn it) is the stunning death and destruction visited upon North Korea by the USA in the war. But it is not forgotten by the grandson of North Korea’s ruler at the time. North Korea’s national ethos is built around resistance: resistance to Japan in Hideyoshi’s invasion, resistance to Japan in 1910, resistance to the USA and its allies in 1950, resistance today. And resistance at enormous cost: Hideyoshi issued an instruction that only noses were to be taken as trophies; there were already too many mountains of heads. LeMay thought 20% of the population had been killed. The latest in the Kim series believes that nuclear weapons protect North Korea. And, every year, there is an exercise that convinces him all over again. That’s on the one side.
One the other side, Pyongyang insists that it is the one and only true capital of united Korea and maintains an enormous army (nearly 10 million). And it did invade in 1950. South Korea, whose capital is within range of thousands of guns, is understandably nervous.
So, breaking the cycle is necessary. And such was tried before two decades ago but Washington didn’t keep its side of the bargain.
So, Washington is not trusted by the North side. Therefore, in an ideal world, Washington would step back and leave the negotiations to the two Korean principals and their three neighbours.
Therefore, the fact that South Korea wants to talk to North Korea, hopefully with China chairing the meeting, is a good sign.
Because, as I said, the solution, or the beginning of it, is out there in the “double suspension”. It’s a (big) local problem but one which the locals can solve. If China (and to a lesser degree Russia) can act as guarantors, and the USA can keep out of it, some sort of initial settlement can be constructed which can, one hopes, lead to something longer term.
(I would observe that Trump’s trash talk has at least started the first debate in the USA of the utility of military force since…. when? And it is driving the Two Koreas and the Three Neighbours to start thinking hard and doing something. Which – IMO – is the whole idea. See this https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/01/02/trump-cuts-gordian-knot-foreign-entanglements.html)