Young-jun Kim speaks on Georgia's economic ties with Korea at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. He also hailed the Trump-Kim summit as a potential first step to lasting peace on the Korean peninsula. Photo: Courtesy of Nick Masino

As the Western world was waking up to news from the historic summit of the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea, South Korea’s local representative was explaining its importance in the epicenter of Georgia’s Korean community. 

Speaking in Gwinnett County, Consul General Young-jun Kim struck an optimistic note on the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. 

“(The consul general) said it was just the beginning and he was hopeful for peace on the Korean peninsula,” said Nick Masino, senior chief economic development officer for Partnership Gwinnett, who helped host the diplomat at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. “Gwinnett, the home to half of Georgia’s Korean-American population, is proud of our relationship with the Korean consulate, and we were honored to receive Mr. Kim’s remarks on last night’s momentous occasion.”

The Trump-Kim summit in Singapore was marked with handshakes, smiles and other displays of goodwill, in stark contrast to just a few months ago, when the leaders traded insults and boasted about the size of their respective nuclear buttons.

The two sides agreed to forge new relations, and North Korea pledged to work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” according to a readout of a joint statement published by news services. Both sides said they would work to return remains of prisoners of war and immediately repatriate all those already identified.  

Many of the points echoed those of the so-called “Panmunjom declaration” reached when South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with Mr. Kim in April at the border. Sanctions, Mr. Trump reportedly said after the meeting, would stay in effect until concrete steps toward these ends are taken by the North Korean regime.

But some surprises emerged from the summit, like Mr. Trump’s declaration that the U.S. and South Korea would halt military exercises the North views as provocations. 

During a lunch last week in Atlanta, Consul General Kim said the Korean War was no longer a “forgotten war,” but that Korean citizens see every day in their thriving economy the legacy of sacrifices made by his audience — members of the Korean War Veterans Association of Atlanta

The Trump-Kim summit offers a glimpse at a different future and could portend an official end to the conflict, which technically was only paused with an armistice in 1953. 

“I strongly hope that we will witness substantial and meaningful results from this meeting, which would ultimately lead North Korea to the path of denuclearization and ensure peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and the entire world,” the consul general said at the luncheon. 

Now the world’s 11th largest economy, South Korea has become a major investor in Georgia and the broader Southeast U.S. 

Read more: Consul General Kim: The Korean War No Longer ‘The Forgotten War’

For more South Korea stories, visit http://www.globalatlanta.comregion/asia/south-korea.  

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...