Missiles at a military parade in Pyongyang, February 2018
KCNA / REUTERS

When it comes to cultivating unpredictability, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seem eager to outdo each other. Those following the unfolding drama over the anticipated summit between the two leaders are growing accustomed to motion sickness.

The first about-face came in March, when Trump made an on-the-spot decision to meet with Kim after several months of trading insults and threats. Some positive developments followed: North Korea froze nuclear and ballistic missile tests, closed a nuclear test site, and released three American detainees. In April, Kim committed to “complete denuclearization” at a meeting in Panmunjom with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, prompting questions about what North Korea meant by “denuclearization” and what it might ask for in return. Despite this uncertainty, Trump greeted the news of the inter-Korean summit with enthusiasm and later raised expectations for his own meeting with Kim, declaring that “the

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  • VICTOR CHA is Professor of Government in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

  • KATRIN FRASER KATZ is a Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She served on the staff of the U.S. National Security Council from 2007 to 2008.

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