One month since the U.S-North Korea summit, skepticism about Kim Jong Un's commitment to denuclearization still hangs over Washington. But in South Korea, the mood is overwhelmingly optimistic as President Moon Jae-in's government pushes for improved ties with its nuclear-armed neighbor.
From sports diplomacy to corporate ventures, Seoul is pulling out all the stops to re-engage Pyongyang as it builds on the positive momentum sparked by April's inter-Korean summit.
Major conglomerates such as Lotte, Hyundai, Hyosung and KT have announced task forces dedicated to exploring inter-Korean ventures. Meanwhile, a group of South Korean businessmen who operated factories at the defunct Kaesong joint industrial complex in North Korea are seeking government approval to visit in hopes of resuming operations.
Pyongyang and Seoul also agreed last month to jointly improve North Korea’s railways and potentially connect them with the South's. Moreover, the two nations pledged to form joint sports teams for the upcoming Asian Games and recently played a series of friendly basketball matches with one another.
Unlike President Donald Trump's administration, "South Koreans aren’t wasting time defining denuclearization," Jean Lee, Korea program director at research group The Wilson Center, wrote in a note this week. "They are pushing ahead with plans for reconciliation with North Korea — with or without the United States."
Moon has long sought to strengthen bilateral ties through economic development, tourism, and cultural exchange — known as the Sunshine Policy — that will define his legacy. And while his approach has been previously criticized for being too conciliatory, he appears to have robust public support.