Asia perspectives on the Kim-Trump summit in Singapore

The historic Singapore summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump on 12 June attracted global attention, but Asian media – whose audiences have lived under the threat of nuclear confrontation on the Korean peninsula for decades – had a more in-depth focus on the event.

Every statement was pored over, every nuanced gesture examined and analysed as experts of every political persuasion had their say.

Here’s a roundup of views published by English-language media in Asia.


In a pre-summit interview with CNN, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described Singapore’s role as being that of “coffee and tea pouring” neutral hosts. Commentators noted that while few concrete promises emerged from the summit, it still represented a small step forward for peace in the region. The event was also viewed as a publicity-boosting affair for the Southeast Asian city.

Read more:

  • Commentary: Summit ends without marquee achievement, but wasn’t a waste (Channel NewsAsia)
  • Op-ed: Reading between the lines of the joint statement (The Straits Times)
  • Big Read: Summit’s real value is in affirming Singapore’s place in the world (TODAY)
  • Commentary: A post-North Korea Asia: What will it look like? (Business Times)

South Korea

Right-leaning publications were generally critical of Trump’s “unprecedented” guarantees to North Korea. Trump’s remarks describing US-South Korea drills as “war games” sparked particular alarm among conservative pundits, with one calling the move to pull troops a “bombshell announcement”. Left-leaning media had cautious but more optimistic views. The Kyunghyang Shinbun called the suspension of military exercises “common sense”. The Hankyoreh, noting the absence of CVID (Complete, Verifiable and Irreversible Dismantlement of the North Korea nuclear weapons programme) in the joint statement, said in an editorial: “The fact the agreement contains a promise to thoroughly implement the 27 April Panmunjeom Declaration and inter-Korean declarations and agreements of the past can be regarded as basically standing in for CVID.”

Read more:

  • Op-ed: Beginning of denuclearization process: The ball is in Kim’s court (Korea Herald)
  • Editorial: Kim Jong-un got everything he wanted from summit (Chosun Ilbo)
  • Editorial: Declaration of end of war necessary to promote nuclear disarmament in North Korea (Kyunghyang Shinmun)
  • Analysis: Joint statement indication of voluntary denuclearization from Kim Jong-un (Hankyoreh)
  • Op-ed: Moon can slurp gravy from no-beef summit (Korea Herald)


Japan mainly focussed on the issue of abductions, which is regarded by the Abe government to be of equal importance to the denuclearisation of North Korea. Japan has no diplomatic relations with the DPRK and maintains it will not normalise ties or provide economic aid unless abductees are repatriated. The issue will put Japan’s diplomatic strategy to the test, said the Yomiuri Shimbun. A Japan Times analysis said making the abductions issue an ultimatum for funding may cause the Abe administration to feel heat from the global community as the summit paves the way to a years-long denuclearisation process.

Read more:

  • Abduction issue raised in historic summit but challenges loom for Japan (Kyodo)
  • Editorial: Move forward on the abduction issue (Japan Times)
  • Analysis: Is Tokyo’s commitment to abduction issue a diplomatic stumbling block? (Japan Times)
  • Editorial: Be cautious about conciliatory atmosphere (Yomiuri Shimbun)
  • Editorial: Japan should play active role to create new order after US-NKorea pact (The Mainichi


The nationalist Global Times published a flurry of op-eds and editorials after the Kim-Trump summit. It described the end of war games as a “big step forward” for the Korean peninsula, and was critical about US media’s worries that the suspension of military exercises would “undermine US strategic posture in East Asia.

Read more:

  • China’s gain from Singapore summit benefits Northeast Asia (Global Times)
  • Trump-Kim summit leaves Japan struggling with outdated strategy (Global Times)
  • American media fail to grasp full picture of Trump-Kim summit (Global Times)
  • Experts say suspension of US-SKorean military games encouraging, uncertainties remain (Xinhua)
  • Make DPRK-US summit starting point for nuclear-free, peaceful peninsula (Xinhua)


India viewed the summit from the angle of India-Pakistan relations. In a statement, the Indian government called the Kim-Trump summit a “positive development”, but highlighted its own concerns about North Korea’s support for Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes. 

Read more:

  • What the handshake in Singapore means for India (Indian Express)
  • Op-ed: Can India, Pakistan learn from Trump-Kim summit? (The Daily Pioneer)
  • Analysis: North Korea-Pakistan axis is legacy issue dating back to Bhutto 1970s (Economic Times)
  • Op-ed: Singapore summit a lesson for India, Pakistan (Ahmedabad Mirror)


– Asia Media Centre