U.S. President Donald Trump was left to talk up a poor deal on Tuesday afternoon as he emerged from a day of photo ops and brief discussions with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Commentators worldwide were quick to point out that far from achieving a commitment to "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization that he had trumpeted ahead of the summit, Trump merely persuaded Kim to work "towards" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
While President Moon Jae-in hailed the summit, conservative pundits in South Korea were unimpressed.
Yun Duk-min, former chief of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, said, "The agreement made no mention of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization or a deadline on nuclear dismantlement."
What alarmed them more was Trump's throwaway promise to end "war games" with South Korea, which he described as "very expensive" and "very provocative." Yun denounced it as a "bombshell announcement."
Nam Sung-wook at Korea University said, "With the latest agreement, we can kiss goodbye to the prospect of North Korean denuclearization." Nam Joo-hong of Kyonggi University also weighed into the debate. "If joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises are halted, the role of the Combined Forces Command ends and U.S. troop numbers will naturally decline," he claimed.
Park Won-gon at Handong Global University went further, slamming the agreement as "the scam of the century that reflected 99 percent of North Korea's wishes." He pointed out that a close look at the agreement shows no binding commitments and only agreements in principle.
Chun Yung-woo, a former chief presidential secretary for foreign affairs, said Trump "denied the value of the South Korea-U.S. alliance and the legitimacy of joint military drills. It looks like the alliance is on the road to dismantlement."
Cho Seong-ryeol at the Institute for National Security Strategy was calmer. "It is true that the results are weaker than expected," he said. "It seems Trump got too greedy and settled for agreements in principle while failing to tackle the technical problems." But he admitted that the fact of the meeting itself and the atmosphere it creates should not be underestimated. "It's significant that North Korea and the U.S., which maintained hostile relations for decades, have taken steps to begin a new relationship," Cho added.
And Koh Yu-hwan at Dongguk University said, "The basic agreements were made during the summit, so the concrete measures have been left to working-level talks."
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) and U.S. President Donald Trump leave after signing a joint agreement in Singapore on Tuesday. /Xinhua-Yonhap