As we near the one-month mark of the famous Singapore peace summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, it’s a good time to check on the progress in the various goals set forth in those highly publicized discussion.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is flying to North Korea for a status check on denuclearization and the return of the remains of US servicemen.

In the days since the June summit, U.S. and North Korean officials have struggled to maintain basic communication, North Korea has not returned the remains of U.S. soldiers who went missing during the Korean War as promised, and new satellite imagery has shown North Korea expanding a key missile-manufacturing plant.

Still, Pompeo sounded a note of optimism before arriving for his third visit to Pyongyang, saying he was “seeking to fill in some details on those commitments” made in Singapore and “continue the momentum toward implementation of what the two leaders promised each other and the world.”

“I expect that the DPRK is ready to do the same,” he said, using an acronym for the North Korean regime.

Pompeo came with a special gift as well.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly brought a CD with the Elton John song “Rocket Man” to give as a gift to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during his visit to the country.

Pompeo arrived in North Korea on Friday amid talks between the two countries over denuclearizing North Korea.

Pompeo brought two gifts for Kim, including a letter from President Trump and the CD, according to The Chosun Ilbo, a top newspaper in South Korea.

Last year, amid escalating rhetoric between the two countries, Trump repeatedly referred to Kim as “Rocket Man” and “Little Rocket Man.”

I would offer that optimism is warranted. First of all, our National Security Advisor is overseeing the process.

“‘We’re going to try and proceed to implement what the two leaders agreed to in Singapore,’ Bolton said on ‘Face the Nation’ on CBS…

“Bolton said the Trump administration is not naive.

“‘We’re very well aware of North Korea’s patterns of behavior over decades of negotiating with the United States,’ adding: ‘There’s not any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this.’”

More importantly, the Koreas are moving forward on developing a friendlier and cooperative relationship. I have taken to reviewing the Korean press regularly on this subject, as it is free of the taint of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

For example, Seoul and Pyongyang have just agreed to cooperate on reforestation and forest conservation in North Korea and near the inter-Korean border.

The two Koreas will jointly conduct inspections of selected areas in mid-July to assess measures against harmful insects; and also discuss exchanging related technology.

They agreed to push for the modernization of seedling farms in the North and the prevention of forest fires.

The South’s three-member working-level delegation led by Korea Forest Service Vice Minister Ryu Kwang-su held talks with the North’s team led by Kim Song-jun, a senior official at the ministry for environmental protection, on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjeom to discuss forestry cooperation.

Furthermore, Kim has been on a big P.R. tour in which the focus has been industrialization instead of military development (the focus of the previous campaigns).

A dozen photos released from North Korea show its leader Kim Jong-un is working to industrialize his debilitated nation. In the footage, Kim is seen with a big dirt smudge on the seat of his trousers and a red face climbing on the beach during his visit to islanders.

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2018/07/103_251699.html

Finally, the Korean press seems to indicated that some of the hard-line military members may be slowing down the peace process, despite Kim’s new focus.

Speculation is rising that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is facing a setback in his plan to focus on economic development by giving up his country’s nuclear weapons, due to opposition from hardliners in the military.

…Some local media reported that during his summit with President Moon Jae-in in April, Kim conveyed his frustration with the military hardliners. Cheong Wa Dae refused to confirm these reports, saying it is diplomatic custom not to disclose conversations between heads of states.

…Some experts even predict Kim may not control the military fully. Gordon Chang, a U.S. columnist and China expert, told Newsmax, “There are a lot of things to suggest he doesn’t really fully control what goes on in the military ― it’s something we need to consider.”

Bureaucrats used to holding and wielding power for decades, and unwilling to move in a new direction at the behest of a new leader, is a problem that President Trump can relate to.

Hopefully, forward movement will continue toward the goals of the Singapore summit. I will continue to monitor the progress in the Korean media, as any good news or positive indications are more likely to be reported there.