The abrupt end to the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un came as no surprise to North Korean defectors in the south.
Cha Ri-hyuk, 33, told AFP that he was not shocked by the no deal outcome. “I knew that Kim Jong Un would never give up the nukes. If the two countries were to make an agreement, I think they would have done it in Singapore last year,” added Cha, who left North Korea in 2013.
Jo Young-hwa, aged 39, who defected a year earlier, said his countrymen “don’t care” about the summits. “Whenever I talk to them in the North, they are not interested. They don’t bother trying to learn anything about it,” he said.
The no deal outcome will come as a huge disappointment for South Korea’s president, who had touted the summit as a “remarkable breakthrough” for peace negotiations on the Korean peninsula. And in Seoul’s main railway station, dozens of people of all ages were glued to TV screens, sombre faced as Trump explained why he and Kim had failed to reach an agreement.
Some expressed sympathy for the North Korean leader. “I feel bad for Kim Jong Un who made a very long train journey to get to Hanoi only to walk away from the meeting with empty hands,” said Jang Ho-su, 36, a government employee.
Lee Gap-yong, a 71-year-old a taxi driver, said Trump could have been “more flexible. I think he wanted too much out of Kim, to an extent that Kim could not agree to.”