Trump may visit Demilitarized Zone during trip to South Korea

A South Korea soldier stands guard in May at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone, which divides the two Koreas.


By KANGA KONG | Bloomberg | Published: October 10, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — U.S. President Donald Trump may travel to the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas as part of his first visit to South Korea in November, Yonhap News reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified military official.

Trump is expected to send a "significant message" to North Korea either verbally or "kinetically" during the trip, Yonhap said, without elaborating on what that may mean.

While Trump would be following his predecessors by visiting the heavily fortified area, any visit to the truce village of Panmunjom and an observation post in the DMZ would take place amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump tweeted on Sunday that only "one thing would work" to stop Kim Jong Un’s regime from further developing a nuclear arsenal aimed at hitting the U.S. mainland. While he didn’t provide further explanation, it left observers speculating that it might be a military choice. He’s also played down hopes for direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea as touted by his own Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators,” he said in a pair of tweets.

A visit to the DMZ would fit Trump’s appetite for high theatrics, Bong Youngshik, a researcher at Yonsei University’s Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, said by email.

"The image of him narrowing his eyes to stare across the DMZ. It is tweeting by another means," Bong said. "Mr. Trump may also think that if it provokes Pyongyang, all the better."

The White House said in late September that Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hawaii from Nov. 3-14, but hasn’t yet released a detailed itinerary.

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