South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said today that the international community should not question Kim Jong Un's motives, as it could hinder progress in bringing about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Song made the comments during a question and answer session after a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a security summit that draws government officials and academics from around the world.
Speaking alongside Song were Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan.
“Chairman Kim Jong Un is looking to make decisive actions," Song said, according to a translation provided by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which hosts the event.
"If we suspect his motives, then any kind of developments to achieve that will be hindered by these suspicions. So as we try to take this path forward, then we must be helping each other."
At times, Onodera and Song appeared to enter into something of a good cop-bad cop routine, though likely unintentionally, with the South Korean providing a more optimistic counterpoint to the skepticism of his Japanese counterpart.
At the end of dark days of confrontation and tensions last year, we heard a message of peace and harmony at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics," Song said, adding that diplomatic efforts are "changing the course of history."
Onodera noted that while recent developments with North Korea have been positive, expectations needed to be grounded in reality and that peace can only be secured through concrete action.
"We have seen history repeat where North Korea would declare to denuclearize, by portraying itself as a consolatory and forthcoming, only to turn around and avoid all international efforts towards peace," said Onodera.
"In light of how North Korea has behaved in the past, I believe it is important not to reward North Korea solely for agreeing to have a dialogue," he continued.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is set to meet US President Donald Trump in Singapore for a historic summit on June 12.