North Korea's Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump both celebrated Tuesday's historic summit as a victory. But many experts see Kim, having won a substantial concession from the world's largest economy while simultaneously gaining greater claims to legitimacy, as the real winner.
Trump has been widely praised for calming tensions on the Korean Peninsula that threatened to escalate into full-blown conflict just six months ago. But, in the long run, his actions will only be a significant success if Kim delivers on his pledge to pursue complete denuclearization — a promise the authoritarian regime has made before.
"I suppose President Trump would get an incomplete ... for Chairman Kim Jong Un, it's an A+," David Adelman, former U.S. ambassador to Singapore, told CNBC on Wednesday.
Miha Hribernik, head of Asia research at consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, echoed that sentiment in a post-summit note: "Kim Jong Un emerged as the clear winner, having extracted a number of concessions from the U.S. in exchange for little of substance."