My Thoughts on the Singapore Summit

SEPTEMBER 20, 2018

I wanted to post my thoughts on the news that President Trump is open to a second meeting with Kim Jung-un. Although it’s been painful to not be able to help local North Koreans in the same ways we have been able to in the past, I also understand the Trump administration’s desire to pressure the North into making changes in the way they have traditionally dealt with the outside world. There is no doubt that the current political situation, US travel ban and sanctions have hurt our ability to continue doing humanitarian work inside North Korea. However, at the same time, President Trump is the only sitting US president to have not only met with the North Korean leader and has also indicated he is willing to meet a second time. What it seems like is that maximum pressure and a desire for diplomacy seems to be working. Add to this dynamic, South Korean President Moon’s working to see movement towards a full-fledged peace accord and Kim Jung-un’s seemingly agreeing, and we have the potential for a situation in Korea which was unthinkable even just last January.

The tough question as an NGO worker with on the ground impact inside North Korea, has been to figure out how to move forward in the midst of all this change. I want to remain optimistic that we can actually see peace in Korea but also realize it can all fall apart as fast as it seems to have come together. At this time, sanctions are of course still in place, which continues to hider our ability to do the work we feel we’ve been called to do. On August 6 the UN issued a new exemption option for NGO’s to work inside North Korea. I’m currently working on applying for the exemption, as well as US Treasury Department OFAC licensing. Both require not only a lot of work but also cost for legal help. That’s time and resources which are not going to the cause of helping local North Korean people with things like clean water, but instead to jumping through legal hoops.

I applaud President Trump and President Moon for their efforts to establish a basis for dialogue and engagement with Kim Jung-un. My hope is that all sides would continue in good faith, moving forward with peaceful resolutions to the issues so that NGO workers like me can get back to helping people instead of having to navigate through bureaucratic red tape. If this happens, in addition to benefiting from a peaceful situation on the Korean Peninsula, all parties can profit from NGO work and experience on the ground as well as our proven ability to build bridges wherever needed. 

Gabe Segoine

About Gabe Segoine:  President and founder of LNKM and author of Surfing North Korea and Other Stories from Inside,  Gabe has passion to see peace and ultimately unification of the Korean peninsula. He engages NK through various avenues such as humanitarian aid, business and sports-cultural exchange, and endeavors to see beneficial development opportunities change the way NK and the rest of the world interact.  

Tags: North Korea, Singapore Summit, President Trump, Kim Jung-un, 

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