2020 Country Brief: North Korea
There may be no brutal dictator who has fared better under Trump than North Korea’s butcher, Kim Jong-un. There are two essential issues in the US-North Korea relationship:
- Ending the nuclear threat North Korea poses globally; and
- Ending the threat North Korea poses to its South Korean neighbors.
To Donald Trump’s credit, he tried unorthodox methods to address both. To his detriment and that of the entire free world, he was so unprepared and outfoxed that North Korea won all the chips. To try mitigating North Korea’s nuclear threat, President Donald Trump held two summits with North Korean Chairman King Jong-un. At the first summit in Singapore, the agreement President Trump signed amounted to absolutely nothing. His own national security advisor, John Bolton, called it “badly flawed.”1And the North Korean tyrant, Kim Jong-un, got the legitimacy he craved. A second summit was equally as weak. While initial observers had high hopes for diplomacy with the North, Trump was simply unprepared and outplayed. North Korea changed nothing about its behavior. Two failed summits showed that the two sides will never be able to come to an agreement under President Trump to lift sanctions in exchange for denuclearization. In fact, as a result of the Trump Administration’s failures, North Korea has continued to advance its nuclear weapons and missile programs, and has stated that diplomacy with President Trump has “faded into a nightmare.”2
Ultimately, negotiations with North Korea are the best way to reduce the threat the country's nuclear weapons pose to the United States and its allies in the long term. But, given past experience, negotiations must focus on producing specific, measurable, and verifiable reductions in North Korea’s nuclear capability before further accommodations are made.
A smart and tough deal with North Korea would include:
- Specific and immediate steps to reduce and ultimately eliminate North Korea’s inventory of long-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting parts of the United States;
- A path to reducing and eliminating its arsenal of nuclear weapons;
- A verification regime to ensure North Korea does not undermine a deal by continuing its long history of violating nuclear agreements; and
- Security guarantees coordinated with US allies, especially South Korea and Japan.
Past US presidents offered North Korea a choice: they can have either a nuclear weapon or an economy, but not both. Unlike past presidents, however, Trump gave Kim Jong-un the legitimacy he craved and received nothing in return. While repeatedly fawning over him, Trump elevated the tyrant Kim on the world stage, claimed a victory lap for signing a weak and vague agreement that does little to address the nuclear threat from North Korea, and then walked away with nothing after capitulating to Kim’s demand for a second summit.
To further complicate matters, uncertainty around Kim’s health and the leadership structure in North Korea has exacerbated the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula and laid bare the need for tough negotiators who know how to draft a real agreement, not a press release.
There are two essential issues in the US-North Korea relationship: 1. Ending the nuclear threat North Korea poses globally; and 2. curbing the conventional military threat North Korea poses to its neighbors.
North Korea has spent years developing and testing nuclear weapons that threaten the region, including our allies, South Korea and Japan. Now, thanks to advances in its ballistic missile technology, North Korea has a functional nuclear weapon. Tensions between North Korea, the United States, and our allies have increased with the North’s advancement of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The situation is further complicated by the fact that North Korea and South Korea technically remain at war after the Korean War ended only in an armistice. In addition to its nuclear weapons, North Korea has packed enough conventional firepower on its border to destroy the South’s capital, Seoul, in a matter of hours if hostilities ever broke out.3It also has a large arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. A war on the Korean Peninsula could lead to the deaths of millions of people on both sides of the border, including possibly hundreds of thousands of Americans.4To quell this threat, the United States must negotiate to denuclearize North Korea.
The first meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un was in Singapore on June 12, 2018. This was the first time a sitting American president had ever met with the leader of this reclusive regime. The two discussed North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in an effort to negotiate a resolution to the ongoing tension between North Korea and the global community. President Trump and Kim Jong-un signed an agreement after the summit, which contained only four vague commitments:
- Establish new US-North Korean relations;
- Build lasting and stable peace on the Korean peninsula;
- Reaffirm the North Korean commitment toward complete denuclearization; and
- Recover remains of prisoners of war or those missing in action.5
Despite President Trump’s insistence that North Korea is no longer a threat to the United States,6North Korea continues to pose a tremendous danger to us and our Asia-Pacific allies through both its nuclear and conventional arsenals.
Negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program continued at the working level with US State Department officials after the June 2018 summit but failed to yield any substantive results. Instead of refusing to capitulate to the North’s demands and call for working-level negotiations to continue between the United States and North Korea, President Trump and Kim Jong-un held a second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam in February 2019. The second summit, similar to the first, was a failure. President Trump’s offer to end American-led sanctions in exchange for complete denuclearization was instantly rebuffed by Kim.7Despite the two failed summits, in mid-2019 Trump decided to get a photo-op with Kim at the Demilitarized Zone and became the first sitting US president to enter North Korea.8
The inability to strike a deal on sanctions relief for denuclearization ended the talks early. Subsequent working level negotiations in Stockholm, Sweden broke off in September 2019 after North Korea walked away.9Although it appears there will be no more summits between Trump and Kim, the United States should insist that any follow-on negotiations between the two countries are smart, tough, and include actionable commitments by the North for complete, verifiable denuclearization.
A smart and tough deal with North Korea includes four key elements.
1. The elimination of North Korea’s inventory of intercontinental ballistic missiles that can deploy a nuclear bomb to parts of the United States.
To deliver a deal that protects America’s interests and allies, the Trump Administration must ensure that any agreement addresses North Korea’s inventory of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). North Korea possesses an arsenal of different vehicles that can deliver a nuclear warhead, including short-, medium-, and long-range ballistic missiles.10In recent years, it has developed new and longer-range ICBMs that are thought to be able to reach the continental United States.11This means North Korea could conceivably hit parts of the country with a nuclear bomb if it is not stopped.12North Korea has also been one of the most prolific exporters of its ballistic missile technology for financial gain, presenting tremendous security concerns about to whom the country has sold—and could sell—this technology.13
A smart and tough deal with North Korea would immediately eliminate the country’s ICBM capabilities as this presents a direct threat to the United States. While it was a positive step that North Korea agreed to temporarily suspend its ICBM testing to allow for negotiations,14the country has since resumed missile tests.15The United States and its allies, as well as the United Nations, have imposed a series of sanctions on North Korea for both its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. But these sanctions have not put a stop to the country’s advancement of these programs, and many countries have failed to comply with the sanctions and avoid business with North Korea.16Any deal made by the United States must aim to eliminate the threat of North Korea’s ICBMs and address all ranges of its delivery vehicles in order to protect America’s allies.
2. Specific and measurable steps to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
North Korea has a significant stockpile of nuclear material that could be used to make a large number of weapons and cause massive destruction and loss of life to us and our allies. Some US intelligence estimates have indicated that North Korea has enough fissile material for up to 60 nuclear warheads, with up to 20 of these warheads possibly already assembled.17Of tremendous concern, a 2017 assessment from the US Defense Intelligence Agency reportedly found that North Korea has the capability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead that can actually fit onto an ICBM.18If true, this would be a significant step toward giving the country the capability to hit parts of the continental United States. Since 2006, the country has also conducted a number of nuclear tests.19
Any final deal the United States makes with North Korea must focus on laying out specific, measurable steps the country will take to eventually eliminate its arsenal of nuclear warheads, including the massive amount of fissile material it holds. The ultimate end-goal of any negotiated deal should be the complete, verifiable denuclearization of North Korea.
3. A strong inspection and verification regime to prevent more broken promises.
North Korea has a long history of breaking its promises on nuclear deals. North Korea negotiated an Agreed Framework under which the United States agreed to supply North Korea with light water reactors in exchange for freezing its nuclear program.20But the deal fell apart in 2002 when the United States alleged that North Korea restarted its program.21In 2003, North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires non-nuclear weapons states to commit to not developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon. In 2009, Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear program that involved the United States also broke down after North Korea walked away. More recently, in 2012, North Korea promised to stop enriching uranium and halt new tests while allowing international inspectors to enter the country, in exchange for humanitarian aid. But this promising development quickly fell apart when North Korea conducted a long-range missile test.22
Today, North Korea attempts to avoid its commitments by playing on differences in definitions with the United States on what denuclearization would mean.23North Korea threatened to cancel the first summit over US insistence that “unilateral nuclear abandonment” is the starting point for negotiations.24Instead, North Korea wants denuclearization to apply to the entire Korean Peninsula, including the removal of US conventional forces—effectively abandoning our South Korean allies.25Neither summit resolved this fundamental tension.
To combat this untrustworthiness going forward, the United States should trust but verify compliance with all terms regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. This must include an agreement by North Korea to declare the scope of its nuclear program and then establish an extensive architecture to allow international inspectors to verify the scope of the North’s program and regularly inspect that the country is upholding its end of any deal. North Korea has a track record of talking, shaking hands with high-level diplomats, and signing agreements—only to break them. President Trump has already approached negotiations with such eagerness that it puts the United States in a weaker negotiating position going forward. The United States should instead move forward with a renewed focus on measurable denuclearization—including a strong and transparent verification and inspection regime—and not be satisfied with symbolic gestures.
4. Coordination with our allies in the region, particularly South Korea and Japan.
The United States has strong partnerships with South Korea and Japan, which are essential negotiating partners. The United States has signed separate treaties with South Korea and Japan that provide for the mutual defense of our nations. Over 26,000 American troops are stationed in South Korea26and around 55,000 are in Japan27—in part, to deter against North Korean aggression. These service members would bear the greatest American cost of any conflict with North Korea; thus, any security guarantees in these negotiations must be carefully coordinated with our allies.
In the past, North Korea has demanded that the United States withdraw its forces from the Korean Peninsula in exchange for the North ending its nuclear weapons program. If the Trump Administration were to cave to this demand, it could further undermine the United States’ relationship with its allies while strengthening China’s hand in the region. Any negotiations on a change in the US force posture in the region must be coordinated with these allies. In the aftermath of the first nuclear summit, President Trump acceded to North Korean demands to cancel joint US military exercises with South Korea, and he has continued to postpone them in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.28These joint exercises are essential to ensuring American and South Korean troops are prepared for conflict. The United States should not make concessions that weaken our military while the threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapons program remains unabated. Any further concessions should be reciprocated by similar North Korean steps to reduce tensions.
President Trump gave away more than he gained at the first summit and left with nothing at the second.
The deal signed between President Trump and Kim Jong-un after the June 2018 summit failed to change the status quo. It made vague promises of “denuclearization” in exchange for security guarantees but included no specific or measurable steps to reach that point. The deal failed to offer an agreed-upon definition of denuclearization, which has been a major sticking point in past negotiations. President Trump sacrificed US troop readiness in South Korea without achieving any major concessions from North Korea. He twice gave North Korea legitimacy as a nuclear power on the global stage while trading away key leverage. Still worse, by profusely praising Kim Jong-un and agreeing to meet with him a second time, President Trump made the United States appear desperate for a deal and gave credibility to a brutal dictator.
The Administration’s strategy toward North Korea has been a failure. North Korea has continued to develop its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program since the summit. In November 2018, reports indicated that North Korea was advancing its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases, which would boost its capability to launch nuclear warheads that can reach the United States.29President Trump has publicly voiced his frustration at the lack of progress on denuclearization and even canceled visits by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to North Korea.30Instead of using the second summit as leverage to force North Korea to decide between an economy and nuclear weapons, President Trump came away with nothing. The second summit only served to lend even more legitimacy to North Kora and further demonstrated the Administration’s failed strategy.
While President Trump touts commitments that North Korea has already breached, past presidents were able to obtain specific commitments to halt or roll back particular elements of North Korea’s weapons complex.31
The second summit in Hanoi left President Trump with little to show for years of diplomacy and engagement with North Korea. After failing to agree on even the most basic language or steps to denuclearize, President Trump abruptly ended the meeting and Kim’s nuclear program continues to grow. Two years later, there has been little progress, and Kim’s erratic behavior and uncertain health conditions32make the regime as dangerous as ever. In June 2020, Kim blew up a $15 million liaison office with South Korea and threatened to move troops back into the Demilitarized Zone on the border of South Korea, before deferring on that action.33Additionally, as highlighted in the “Cybersecurity” chapter of this book, while North Korea has long engaged in state-sponsored malicious cyber activity—largely to skirt US sanctions and steal sensitive information from the United States and other countries’ businesses and government institutions—the US government recently documented that these activities have continued to grow in size and scope over the last few years.34
North Korea’s highly centralized leadership structure further complicates the nuclear issue
Recent events have exposed the highly centralized leadership structure in North Korea that makes the future of the country’s government uncertain. In April 2020, rumors began to surface that Kim Jong-un was in grave danger following a reported surgery.35Kim’s two-week absence during North Korea’s most important holiday forced foreign nations and North Korea analysts to attempt to identify Kim’s successor in the event of the tyrant’s death. Rising to the top of that list was his sister, Kim Yo-jong, and Kim Yong-Chol, a well-known general. While Kim was seen a few weeks after his hiatus, the lack of knowledge surrounding his possible successor—due to the leader’s historic reclusiveness and recent purge of top staff—poses enormous questions about how the United States and international community would respond in order to secure loose nukes in the event of a North Korean leadership crisis. It is for this reason, and many more, that the United States needs leadership capable of delivering a smart and tough agreement with North Korea that reduces the risk of nuclear conflict.
North Korea poses a tremendous threat to the United States and its Asia-Pacific allies. Ultimately, negotiations are the best option to reduce the threat of North Korea and maintain security. But a smart and tough deal with North Korea must include strong and transparent inspections and verification mechanisms to ensure that the North is not able to cheat on any deal, be closely coordinated with US regional allies who provide critical deterrence against North Korean aggression, and eliminate the capability of North Korea to hit the United States with a nuclear bomb. Since signing the 2018 deal with Kim Jong-un and failing at the second meeting Kim requested, President Trump gave away more and got less than any other American president—and the commitments he did receive have already been broken. The next administration should focus on getting a smart and tough deal from North Korea, rather than holding frivolous summits that do not achieve concrete solutions. American national security hangs in the balance.
Sanger, David E. “On North Korea and Iran, Bolton Blames ‘the Split Between Trump and Trump’.” The New York Times, 21 June 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/us/politics/john-bolton-north-korea-iran-trump.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.
Sang-Hun, Choe. “North Korea Vows to Boost Nuclear Program, Saying U.S. Diplomacy Failed.” The New York Times, 16 June 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/06/11/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-trump.html. Accessed 25 June 2020.
Cordesman, Anthony H. "The Other Side of the North Korean Threat: Looking Beyond Its Nuclear Weapons and ICBMs." Center for Strategic and International Studies, 16 Mar. 2018, https://www.csis.org/analysis/other-side-north-korean-threat-looking-beyond-its-nuclear-weapons-and-icbms. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
McInnis, Kathleen J., et al. “The North Korean Nuclear Challenge: Military Options and Issues for Congress.” Congressional Research Service, 6 Nov. 2017, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R44994.pdf, pp. 17–18. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
United States, White House. “Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit.” 12 June 2018, www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/joint-statement-president-donald-j-trump-united-states-america-chairman-kim-jong-un-democratic-peoples-republic-korea-singapore-summit/. Accessed 29 June 2020.
Reuters. “Trump claims North Korea is ‘no longer a nuclear threat’.” CNBC, 13 June 2018, www.cnbc.com/2018/06/13/trump-says-north-korea-no-longer-a-nuclear-threat.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.
Liptak, Kevin and Jeremy Diamond. “’Sometimes you have to walk’: Trump leaves Hanoi with no deal.” CNN, 28 Feb. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/02/27/politics/donald-trump-kim-jong-un-vietnam-summit/index.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.
Lederman, Josh and Hans Nichols. “Trump meets Kim John Un, becomes first sitting U.S. president to step into North Korea.” NBC News, 30 June 2019, www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-kim-jong-un-meet-dmz-n1025041. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.
Ahlander, Johan and Philip O’Connor. “North Korea breaks off nuclear talks to U.S. in Sweden.” Reuters, 5 Oct. 2019, www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa-sweden/north-korea-breaks-off-nuclear-talks-with-u-s-in-sweden-idUSKCN1WK074. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.
Missile Defense Project, "Missiles of North Korea," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 14, 2018, missilethreat.csis.org/country/dprk/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.
Cohen, Zachary, et al. “New missile test shows North Korea capable of hitting all of US mainland.” CNN, 30 Nov. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/11/28/politics/north-korea-missile-launch/index.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.
Missile Defense Project, "Missiles of North Korea," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 14, 2018, missilethreat.csis.org/country/dprk/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Nuclear Threat Initiative. “North Korea.” www.nti.org/learn/countries/north-korea/delivery-systems/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018
Fifield, Anna. “North Korea Says It Will Suspend Nuclear and Missile Tests, Shut down Test Site.” The Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korean-leader-suspends-nuclear-and-missile-tests-shuts-down-test-site/2018/04/20/71ff2eea-44e7-11e8-baaf-8b3c5a3da888_story.html. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Van Diepen, Vann H. “Resumed North Korean ICBM Testing: Possible Technical Objectives.” 38 North, 9 Dec. 2019, www.38north.org/2019/12/vvandiepen120919/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.
Albert, Eleanor. “What to Know About the Sanctions on North Korea.” Council on Foreign Relations, 16 July 2019, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-know-about-sanctions-north-korea. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018
Warrick, Joby, et al. “North Korea Now Making Missile-Ready Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Analysts Say.” The Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korea-now-making-missile-ready-nuclear-weapons-us-analysts-say/2017/08/08/e14b882a-7b6b-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018. Kristensen, Hans M., and Robert S. Norris. "North Korean nuclear capabilities, 2018." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 74.1 (2018): 41-51. www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00963402.2017.1413062. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Warrick, Joby, et al. “North Korea Now Making Missile-Ready Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Analysts Say.” The Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korea-now-making-missile-ready-nuclear-weapons-us-analysts-say/2017/08/08/e14b882a-7b6b-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Kristensen, Hans M., and Robert S. Norris. "North Korean nuclear capabilities, 2018." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 74.1 (2018): 41-51. www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00963402.2017.1413062. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
US Department of State. “Agreed Framework Between the United States of America and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.” Bureau of Arms Control, 21 Oct. 1994, https://2001-2009.state.gov/t/ac/rls/or/2004/31009.htm. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
General, IAEA Director. Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’, report by the Director General. GOV/2009/45-GC (53)/13, 2009. www-legacy.iaea.org/About/Policy/GC/GC59/GC59Documents/English/gc59-22_en.pdf. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018
Davenport, Kelsey. “Chronology of U.S.-North Korean Nuclear and Missile Diplomacy.” Arms Control Association, www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/dprkchron. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Fifield, Anna. “North Korea's Definition of 'Denuclearization' Is Very Different from Trump's.” The Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/north-koreas-definition-ofdenuclearization-is-very-different-from-trumps/2018/04/09/55bf9c06-3bc8-11e8-912d-16c9e9b37800_story.html. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Fifield, Anna. “North Korea expands threat to cancel Trump-Kim summit, saying it won’t be pushed to abandon its nukes.” The Washington Post, 16 May 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korea-threatens-to-cancel-summit-with-trump-over-military-drills/2018/05/15/04a15a5e-5878-11e8-8b92-45fdd7aaef3c_story.html. Accessed 29 June 2020.
United States, Congress, Senate Committee on Armed Services. “U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea.” 23 Feb. 2016, www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/16-02-23-us-pacific-command-and-us-forces-korea. Video of hearing. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Defense Man Power Data Center. “Military and Civilian Personnel by Service/Agency by State/Country June 2020.” Office of the Secretary of Defense, June 2020, https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/dwp/dwp_reports.jsp. Accessed 31 Aug. 2020.
Defense Man Power Data Center. “Military and Civilian Personnel by Service/Agency by State/Country June 2020.” Office of the Secretary of Defense, June 2020, https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/dwp/dwp_reports.jsp. Accessed 31 Aug. 2020.
Starr, Barbara. “US-South Korea military exercise expected to be scaled back due to coronavirus.” CNN, 25 Feb. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/02/25/politics/us-south-korea-military-drills-coronavirus/index.html. Accessed 29 June 2020.
Sanger, David E. and William J. Broad. “In North Korea, Missile Bases Suggest a Great Deception.” The New York Times, 12 Nov. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/11/12/us/politics/north-korea-missile-bases.html. Accessed 9 Dec. 2018.
Donati, Jessica, and Peter Nicholas. “Trump Says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Won't Go to North Korea.” The Wall Street Journal, 25 Aug. 2018, www.wsj.com/articles/trump-says-secretary-of-state-mike-pompeo-wont-go-to-north-korea-1535132989. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Barrett, Brian. “All the Times North Korea Promised to Denuclearize.” Wired, 12 June 2018, www.wired.com/story/north-korea-summit-denuclearize-history/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
Sang-Hun, Choe. “Kim Jong-un Resurfaces, State Media Says, After Weeks of Health Rumors.” The New York Times, 1 May 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/05/01/world/asia/kim-jong-un-resurfaces.html. Accessed 30 June 2020.
Inocencio, Ramy. “North Korea threatens to send troops into the demilitarized zone.” CBS News, 17 June 2020, www.cbsnews.com/news/north-korea-south-korea-kim-threat-send-troops-demilitarized-zone-after-blowing-up-liaison-office/. Accessed 30 June 2020.
US Department of Treasury. “Guidance on the North Korean Cyber Threat.” 15 Apr. 2020, www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/dprk_cyber_threat_advisory_20200415.pdf. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.
Sang-Hun, Choe. “Kim Johng-un’s Absence and North Korea’s Silence Keep Rumor Mill Churning.” The New York Times, 26 Apr. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/04/26/world/asia/kim-jong-un-absence-north-korea.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2020.