- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2019

The number of South Koreans supporting President Moon Jae-in’s diplomatic engagement with North Korea has fallen markedly as two summits between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have yet to deliver a major breakthrough, a new poll found Friday.

The survey, conducted by Hankook Resarch for the Korea Times newspaper in Seoul, found just a slim majority — 51.1 percent — now say they back Mr. Moon’s detente policy with the North, compared to 47.1 percent who oppose it.

That’s down markedly from the 67 percent who said they supported Mr. Moon’s engagement policy in August, shortly after Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim had their first landmark summit in Singapore.

Mr. Trump has claimed his personal diplomacy has brought a sharp reduction in tensions on the peninsula, including a halt to major nuclear and missile testing by Pyongyang. Mr. Moon and Mr. Kim also held three inter-Korean summits in the space of five months last year.

But progress on the nuclear issue appears to have stalled after the failed Trump-Kim summit in February in Vietnam, followed by the testing of new shorter-range missiles by North Korea and the apparent resumption of some nuclear activities in recent months.

Mr. Moon’s critics say he is paying the price for setting unreasonably high hopes with voters for direct diplomacy on the divided peninsula.

“The government led people to have higher expectations on the success of the talks with the North last year,” Shin Beom-chul, director of the Center for Security and Unification at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, told the Korea Times Friday. “The government needs to find a balance between other diplomatic issues and the North Korea issue by setting realistic goals regarding the North.”

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