South Korean authorities have searched the headquarters of Korean Air as part of an investigation into alleged tax evasion by the family of the company's chairman, the Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday. A Korean Air spokesman confirmed the raid on the offices in Seoul but did not give any details. The family of Korean Air chief executive Cho Yang-ho has also been accused of smuggling luxury goods into the country. The airline headquarters have been searched before in connection with those allegations. The family has repeatedly made headlines. It reportedly failed to pay tax on a recent inheritance. The chairman's youngest daughter allegedly assaulted an ad executive at a business meeting. Cho Hyun-min, a senior Korean Air executive and daughter of Cho Yang-ho, was accused of shouting at the executive and throwing water in his face at a meeting in March. Her sister Cho Hyun-ah was jailed in 2014 after delaying a flight in New York because she was upset by the way her nuts were served. The scandal became known as the "nut rage" incident. Both had to step down from their management positions with the airline. Investigators are also combing family accounts amid allegations of company funds being illegally channelled into private coffers.
* Senior N.Korea official headed to United States - Yonhap * N.Korean leader's de facto chief of staff in Singapore - NHK * US 'pre-advance team' also head to Singapore - White House * Another US team met N.Koreans in fortified DMZ North Korea has dispatched top officials to the United States and Singapore, media reported on Tuesday, the latest indication that the on-again-off-again summit with US President Donald Trump may go ahead. North Korea's Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, was scheduled to fly to the United States on Wednesday after speaking to Chinese officials in Beijing, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing an unnamed source. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's de facto chief of staff, Kim Chang Son, meanwhile, flew to Singapore via Beijing on Monday night, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. At the same time, a "pre-advance" team was travelling to Singapore to meet with North Koreans, the White House said. US government officials, including the White House deputy chief of staff for operations Joe Hagin, left US Yokota Air Base in Japan for Singapore on Monday, NHK said. The reports indicate that planning for the historic summit, initially scheduled for June 12, is moving ahead after Trump called it off last week. A day later, Trump said he had reconsidered, and officials from both countries were meeting to work out details. When Kim Chang Son was asked by a reporter at the Beijing airport if he was flying to Singapore for talks with the United States, he said he was "going there to play," according to footage from Nippon Television Network. Choe Kang Il, a North Korean foreign ministry official involved with North America issues, was also spotted at Beijing Capital International Airport, according to Yonhap. It did not say whether Choe would be accompanying Kim Yong Chol. Senior visit If his trip is confirmed, Kim Yong Chol would be the most senior North Korean official to meet with top officials in the United States since Jo Myong Rok, a marshal, met with then-President Bill Clinton at the White House in 2000. A former military spy chief, Kim Yong Chol has been a central player in the recent thaw in relations between North Korea and South Korea, as well as the United States. Kim joined Kim Jong Un in both of his two meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April and May, and hosted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when his visited Pyongyang most recently early this month. The United States and South Korea blacklisted Kim Yong Chol for supporting the North's nuclear and missile programmes in 2010 and 2016, respectively. Due to sanctions against him, Kim Yong Chol is banned from visiting the United States normally. Any visit to the United States would indicate a waiver was granted. During his tenure as a senior intelligence official, Kim was accused by South Korea of masterminding deadly attacks on a South Korean navy ship and an island in 2010, and was linked by US intelligence to a cyberattack on Sony Pictures in 2014. North Korea denied any involvement in the attack on the ship and on Sony Pictures. Diplomatic negotiations In a flurry of diplomacy over the weekend, Kim Jong Un and South Korea's Moon held a surprise meeting on Saturday at the border village of Panmunjom, during which they agreed the North Korea-US summit must be held. And on Sunday, the US State Department said American and North Korean officials had met at Panmunjom. Sung Kim, the former US ambassador to South Korea and current ambassador to the Philippines, led that American delegation, an American official told Reuters. In Kim and Moon's first, upbeat meeting on April 27, they agreed to seek the "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula - but didn't define what that meant, or how that would proceed. Since then, North Korea has rejected US demands for it to unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons programme that experts say could threaten the United States. Pyongyang also demanded the United States halt future joint military drills with South Korea if it truly wishes for talks with North Korea, the North's Rodong Sinmun said on Tuesday. In response to reporters' questions regarding the report, South Korea's defense ministry said it does not have plans to change joint exercise schedules with the United States military. Analysts believe Washington is trying to determine whether North Korea is willing to agree on sufficient steps towards denuclearisation to allow a summit to take place. North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programmes as a deterrent against perceived aggression by the United States, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. It has long said it is open to eventually giving up its nuclear arsenal if the United States withdraws its troops from South Korea and ends its "nuclear umbrella” alliance with Seoul.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said yesterday there could be more impromptu talks and summits with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, as US officials prepare for a historic meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim. Moon and Kim Jong-un held a surprise meeting on Saturday at the border village of Panmunjom, during which they agreed that a North Korea-US summit must be held. “What’s more important than anything from the latest inter-Korean summit was that the leaders easily got in contact, easily made an appointment and easily met to discuss urgent matters, without complicated procedures and formalities, just like a casual meeting,” Moon told a meeting with senior secretaries. Trump last week pulled out of the meeting with Kim, planned for June 12 in Singapore, before announcing he had reconsidered and American and North Korean officials were meeting to work out details. On Sunday, the US State Department said US and North Korean officials had met at Panmunjom, a village in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that runs along the heavily armed border between North and South Korea. A “pre-advance” team of US officials was also travelling to Singapore to meet with North Koreans there, the White House said. Asian stocks and US share futures gained yesterday, while shares in South Korean construction and railway firms surged after Trump said his officials and North Korea have resumed talks to prepare for the summit in June. Shares of Shinwon Corp, which used to operate factories in the Kaesong industrial region near the demilitarised zone, jumped 22%, while Hyundai Engineering & Construction gained 24 percent. A US official told Reuters that Sung Kim, the former US ambassador to South Korea, was leading the American delegation to meet North Korean officials at the border. “It’s a good thing to have him onboard,” said a former senior South Korean official who worked with Sung Kim in past. “He’s capable, level-headed, cautious, and has solid grasp of the issues and knows North Koreans well. But at the same time he has healthy scepticism.” Pentagon official Randall Schriver was also part of the US team, the US official said. The Washington Post first reported the team met with Choe Son Hui, the North Korean vice foreign minister. The US delegation also included Allison Hooker, the Korea expert on the White House National Security Council. After weeks of political posturing by both Trump and Kim, analysts welcomed the news the United States had dispatched a team of seasoned negotiators to hold several days of preparatory talks with the North Koreans. “Sending such an experienced and professional team signals that the Trump administration is getting serious about the specifics of an agreement,” said former US deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia, Abraham Denmark. “It’s also an implicit acknowledgement that running this negotiation out of the Oval Office has not worked, and that lower-level officials are needed to work out the details before a summit can take place.” Still, with only a few weeks left until the scheduled summit, such talks are unlikely to reconcile the differing positions over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal, he said. “No matter how experienced and knowledgeable these officials are, they will not be able to change the fundamental challenge between the United States and North Korea over its status as a nuclear power.” North Korea has faced years of economic sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes since it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. The United States has struggled to slow the isolated country’s weapons programmes, which have become a security priority for Washington given Pyongyang’s promise to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland. In remarks on Sunday, Moon acknowledged Pyongyang and Washington may have differing expectations of what denuclearisation means and he urged both sides to hold working-level talks to resolve their differences. The United States has demanded the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible” dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. Pyongyang has rejected unilateral disarmament and has always couched its language in terms of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. In previous, failed talks, North Korea said it could consider giving up its arsenal if Washington removed its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan. Moon said Saturday’s summit with Kim, which was organised on short notice after the North Korean leader requested a meeting, should be a model for increased contact between the leaders of the two Koreas. “If we could hold working-level, back-to-back talks on both sides of Panmunjom if urgently necessary in addition to formal summits, it would expedite faster advancement of inter-Korean relations,” Moon told his aides. Moon may meet Trump, Kim in Singapore: official South Korean President Moon Jae-in could travel to Singapore to meet with US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a government official in Seoul said yesterday. The potential three-way meeting could be held around June 12, when Trump and Kim were originally scheduled to hold their landmark bilateral summit, the presidential office spokesman told the Yonhap news agency. The meeting would depend on the outcome of discussions between Washington and Pyongyang, the official said. US officials on Sunday entered the North Korean side of the demilitarised zone (DMZ) for talks as preparations continued for a summit. The future of the Trump-Kim summit remains unclear after Trump on Thursday said he was pulling out, citing “open hostility” in Pyongyang’s recent statements, before voicing eagerness to still hold the summit, even on the original date. Moon and Kim held unannounced talks on Saturday in the DMZ. Kim again expressed willingness to meet Trump and reiterated a pledge to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula made when the Korean leaders first met in April, Moon said.
* South Korea's Moon says N.Korea agrees US summit must go ahead * Leaders of North and South met after dramatic diplomatic week * North's Kim committed to 'complete' denuclearisation, Moon says * Trump calls summit off, then says plans proceeding 'nicely' * Differing expectations on what denuclearisation might mean US officials crossed into North Korea on Sunday to hold talks on preparations for a possible summit, a US newspaper reported, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his commitment to meet with US President Donald Trump. Both Pyongyang and Washington are pressing ahead on plans for a meeting between the two leaders after Trump pulled out of the scheduled June 12 summit on Thursday, only to reconsider the decision the next day. The Washington Post, citing a person familiar with the arrangements, said Sung Kim, a former US ambassador to South Korea and former nuclear negotiator with the North, was leading the preparations on the US side. He crossed into North Korean territory with Allison Hooker, the Korea expert on the White House National Security Council. They met with Choe Son Hui, the North Korean vice foreign minister, the Post said. Pentagon official Randall Schriver is also in Seoul currently, the paper said. The meetings are expected to continue on Monday and Tuesday and are focused on the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, it said. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said earlier that he and North Korea's Kim agreed at a surprise meeting on Saturday that the possible North Korea-US summit must be held, Moon told a news conference in Seoul. Kim reaffirmed his commitment to "complete" denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and to a planned meeting with Trump, Moon said. "Chairman Kim and I have agreed that the June 12 summit should be held successfully, and that our quest for the Korean peninsula's denuclearisation and a perpetual peace regime should not be halted," Moon said. The meeting was the latest dramatic turn in a week of diplomatic ups and downs surrounding the prospects for an unprecedented summit between the United States and North Korea, and the strongest sign yet that the leaders of the two Koreas are trying to keep the on-again off-again meeting on track. While maintaining that Kim is committed to denuclearisation, Moon acknowledged Pyongyang and Washington may have differing expectations of what that means and he urged both sides to hold working-level talks to resolve their differences. A statement from North Korea's state news agency KCNA said Kim expressed "his fixed will" on the possibility of meeting Trump as previously planned. Trump said on Saturday he was still looking at a June 12 date for a summit in Singapore and that talks were progressing very well. "We're doing very well in terms of the summit with North Korea," Trump said at the White House. "It's moving along very nicely. So we're looking at June 12th in Singapore. That hasn't changed. So, we'll see what happens." A White House team will leave as scheduled for Singapore this weekend to prepare for the possible summit, a White House spokeswoman said on Saturday. Moon, who returned to Seoul on Thursday morning after meeting Trump in Washington in an effort to keep the US-North Korea summit on track, said he delivered a message of Trump's "firm resolve" to end the hostile relationship with North Korea and pursue bilateral economic cooperation. Trump said in a letter to Kim on Thursday he was cancelling the planned Singapore summit, citing North Korea's "open hostility." The Trump administration has demanded that North Korea completely and irreversibly shut its nuclear weapons programme. Kim and Trump's initial decision to meet followed months of war threats and insults between the leaders over the programme. American officials are sceptical that Kim will ever fully abandon his nuclear arsenal, and Moon said North Korea is not yet convinced it can trust security guarantees from the United States.
A White House team will travel to Singapore to prepare for a June 12 summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the White House said on Saturday. Coming after a surprise meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the move was the latest sign that the on-again, off-again Trump-Kim summit may yet go ahead as planned. "The White House pre-advance team for Singapore will leave as scheduled in order to prepare should the summit take place," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. Trump pulled out of the summit on Thursday, citing Pyongyang's "tremendous anger and open hostility" -- only to reverse himself on Friday after North Korea said it was willing to talk "at any time." In a tweet, Trump the summit was "likely" to happen as scheduled June 12. "We're talking to them now," Trump said of the North Koreans. "They very much want to do it. We'd like to do it." Then on Saturday, Moon met with Kim on the north side of the Demilitarised Zone separating the two Koreas "to ensure a successful US North Korea summit," Seoul's presidential Blue House said in a statement.
US President Donald Trump, a day after his cancellation of a high-stakes summit with North Korea, said on Friday that the meeting with Kim Jong Un could still go ahead. "We're going to see what happens," Trump told reporters at the White House, after welcoming Pyongyang's latest statement on the talks as "very good news." "It could even be the 12th," he said in a reference to the original June 12 date set for the meeting in Singapore. "We're talking to them now," Trump said of the North Koreans. "They very much want to do it. We'd like to do it. We'll see what happens." North Korea, responding to Trump's abrupt cancellation of the meeting over "hostility" from Pyongyang, said on Friday that it is willing to talk to the United States "at any time." Trump welcomed the statement as "warm and productive." "We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!" the US president said in a tweet. In a letter to Kim, Trump said on Thursday he would not go ahead with the summit in Singapore, following what the White House called a "trail of broken promises" by the North. Trump blamed "open hostility" from Kim's regime for his decision to call off the talks, and warned North Korea against committing any "foolish or reckless acts." But Pyongyang's reaction to the sudden U-turn has so far been conciliatory. First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan called Trump's decision "unexpected" and "regrettable." But he left the door open for talks, saying officials were willing "to sit face-to-face at any time." Just before Trump announced the cancellation of the meeting, North Korea declared it had "completely" dismantled its nuclear test site in the country's far northeast, in a carefully choreographed goodwill gesture ahead of the summit. But the chances of success for the unprecedented face-to-face had recently been thrown into doubt as threats were traded by both sides. 'Shocking' The US summit cancellation blindsided treaty ally South Korea, which until now had brokered a remarkable detente between Washington and Pyongyang, with President Moon Jae-in calling the move "shocking and very regrettable." Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said however he respected and supported the US president's move. China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, urged the two foes to "show goodwill," while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the parties to keep talking, as did host Singapore, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin held out hope the talks would eventually take place. Trump's announcement came a day after Pyongyang hardened its rhetoric, calling comments by Vice President Mike Pence "ignorant and stupid." "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting," read Trump's letter to Kim. But he said talks could still go ahead "at a later date." Politically, Trump had invested heavily in the success of the planned summit. As the date drew nearer, however, the gulf in expectations between the two sides became apparent. Washington has made it clear it wants to see the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation" of the North. But Pyongyang has vowed it will never give up its nuclear deterrent until it feels safe from what it terms US aggression. US aides stood up A senior White House official said Pyongyang had demonstrated a "profound lack of good faith" in the run-up to the summit -- including standing up the White House's deputy chief of staff, who had travelled to Singapore for preparatory talks. The White House viewed North Korea's objections to the latest US-South Korean joint military exercise -- and its recent cancellation of a meeting with the South Koreans -- as a breach of its commitments leading up to the summit. It also was unhappy about the North's failure to allow international observers to verify the dismantling of the Punggye-ri test site, the staging ground for all six of its nuclear tests which was buried inside a mountain near the border with China. But the North's Kim Kye Gwan countered that Pyongyang's angry statements were "just a backlash in response to harsh words from the US side that has been pushing for a unilateral denuclearisation." Both Pence and Trump's hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton had raised the spectre of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who gave up atomic weapons only to die years later at the hands of US-backed rebels. Experts warned that cancelling the meeting could have knock-on effects, especially among allies already rattled by Trump's unpredictability. "In a contest of who can be the most erratic leader, President Trump beats Kim Jong Un hands-down," Joel Wit, founder of the respected 38 North website which monitors North Korea, wrote on Twitter. "His unsteady hand has left everyone scratching their heads, including our ROK (South Korean) allies." But others said Trump's willingness to walk away could extract further concessions from Pyongyang. "North Korea will have to propose more detailed plans for denuclearisation if it wants to talk in the future," said Go Myong-hyun, an analyst at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies.
Many South Koreans were fuming on Friday after US President Donald Trump cancelled a historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, feeling they had been cheated of a chance of a lifetime to live in peace. Trump called off the unprecedented meeting, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, after months of diplomatic progress had silenced bellicose rhetoric from the two sides and eased fears of a return to war. ‘North Korea was in the process of doing everything that had been demanded of it. They even detonated their nuclear test site,’ said Eugene Lim, a 29-year-old office worker in Seoul. ‘Trump has no interest in peace in our country. Why can't he just let us, the two Koreas, live in peace?’ North Korea on Thursday ‘completely dismantled’ its Punggye-ri nuclear test ground to ‘ensure the transparency of discontinuance of nuclear tests’, after blowing up tunnels at the site, it said. The detonation, which took place in the presence of dozens of international journalists but no independent experts, came after Kim Jong Un pledged to cease all nuclear and long-range missile tests last month. Kim also released three American prisoners as a gesture of goodwill. Dozens of university students and women's rights activists protested in different rallies in Seoul on Friday to denounce Trump, with some punching his face printed on a picket sign and tearing his photograph apart. Kim Dong-ho, a 38-year-old employee at a blockchain company, said it wasn't right to isolate North Korea again when it was making efforts to join the international community. ‘After all, those of us living on the Korean peninsula suffer the consequences of your action, you Yankee!,’ Kim said. SOUTH KOREA'S MOON ‘PERPLEXED’ Trump also warned North Korea the US military was ready in the event of any reckless acts, and when asked if the summit cancellation increased the risk of war, he replied: ‘We'll see what happens.’ South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who worked hard to help set up the summit and urged Trump at a White House meeting on Tuesday not to let a rare opportunity slip away, said he was ‘perplexed’ by the cancellation. North Korea said it remained open to resolving issues with the United States, ‘regardless of ways, at any time’. South Koreans' perception of North Korea, especially those in their 20s and 30s, has visibly softened after Kim Jong Un and Moon pledged no more war in their inter-Korean summit in April, according to several polls. A Gallup Korea survey in early May suggested 88 percent of South Koreans thought that the inter-Korean summit held was a success, while only five percent said it was a failure. The remainder declined to comment. A survey of 106 university students at Kookmin University in Seoul showed 57.3 percent had a positive image of Kim Jong Un after the summit, compared to 19.8 percent beforehand. North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The United States stations 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the war. ‘It feels like Trump just knocked down all the efforts the two Koreas have put forward for the US-North Korea summit. For me, it feels like North Korea is more of a normal country, saying it would give the US time and wait,’ said Yun Hae-ri, a 25-year-old office worker. ‘I don't think Trump is doing the right thing if he wants to win the Nobel Peace Prize.’ Other South Koreans had concerns closer to home. ‘What I'm most worried about are my stock holdings,’ said Chon Jin-young, a 25-year-old Seoul office worker. ‘I hope they're not hammered too much.’
Donald Trump holds a high-stakes meeting with South Korea's president at the White House on Tuesday, talks that could decide whether the US president's much-vaunted summit with the North's leader Kim Jong Un goes ahead. Moon Jae-in jets into Washington on a mission to salvage a rare diplomatic opening between the US and North Korea that is in trouble almost before it begins. Trump had agreed to meet inscrutable "Supreme Leader" Kim in Singapore on June 12, but the first-ever US-North Korea summit is now in serious doubt, with both sides expressing reservations. South Korea -- worried about Kim's bellicose weapons testing and Trump's similarly bellicose warnings about a looming war -- was instrumental in convincing the two Cold War foes to sit down and talk. Moon sent his own national security advisor to the White House in March, carrying an offer of talks and word that North Korea may be willing to abandon nuclear weapons, an enticing prospect. Trump surprised his guests, his own aides and the world by summarily accepting the meeting, seeing an opportunity to "do a deal" and avoid military confrontation. Pyongyang is on the verge of marrying nuclear and missile technology allowing it to hit the continental United States with a nuke, a capability Washington sees as wholly unacceptable. Since then, there has been a landmark series of intra-Korean meetings, two trips to Pyongyang by Mike Pompeo -- first as CIA director then as America's top diplomat -- and three American citizens have been released from the North. But after several Trumpian victory laps, North Korea's willingness to denuclearise is now in serious doubt. Earlier this month, North Korea denounced US demands for "unilateral nuclear abandonment" and cancelled at the last minute a high-level meeting with the South in protest over joint military drills between Seoul and Washington. Trump responded by saying the meeting may or may not take place. Vice President Mike Pence warned in an interview on Monday night that there was "no question" that Trump would be prepared to walk away from the talks with Kim if it looks like they won't yield results and that the president was not just after a public relations triumph. Pence said that both the Clinton and Bush administrations "got played" by North Korea when Washington previously tried to get Pyongyang to denuclearise but the current administration would not make the same mistakes. "It would be a great mistake for Kim Jong Un to think he could play Donald Trump," he told Fox News. 'We'll see what happens' Trump also surprised many by offering Kim an upfront security guarantee, allowing him to stay in power, and suggested that Kim's apparent about-face may have been at the behest of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. "It could very well be that he's influencing Kim Jong Un," Trump said, citing a recent meeting between the pair, their second in a month's time. "We'll see what happens." Analysts saw North Korea's perceived slow peddling as evidence of what they feared all along, that Pyongyang may have been playing for time -- hoping to ease sanctions and "maximum pressure" or of South Korea overtorquing the prospects of a deal. "The current episode of tension reflects a wide and dangerous expectation gap between the United States and North Korea," said Eric Gomez of the CATO Institute. "Denuclearisation is not off the table for the North, but it expects the United States to end the so-called 'hostile policy' as a precondition for denuclearisation." It is far from clear what that means concretely, but it could include the forced withdrawal of 30,000 US troops from the Korean peninsula. With just weeks to go and little clarity on what will be discussed or what happens if talks fail, some Korea watchers predict fireworks during Trump's talks with Moon. "It increasingly looks like the Moon administration overstated North Korea's willingness to deal. Moon will probably get an earful over that," said Robert Kelly of Pusan National University. Yonhap news agency quoted a Blue House official as saying Moon would "likely tell President Trump what to expect and what not to expect from Kim."
* Koo Bon-moo led parent group of LG electronics and LG chem * LG's controlling family to hand over to fourth generation The chairman of South Korea's LG Group, Koo Bon-moo, instrumental to transforming the country's fourth-largest conglomerate into a global brand, passed away on Sunday after a year-long battle with brain disease. LG Group said in a statement Koo, 73, had been ill for a year. A group official said Koo had been fighting a brain disease and had undergone surgery. The official declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. ‘Becoming the third chairman of LG at the age of 50 in 1995, Koo established key three businesses - electronics, chemicals and telecommunications - led a global company LG, and contributed to driving (South Korea's) industrial competitiveness and national economic development,’ LG said. Under Koo's leadership, the conglomerate changed its corporate brand to LG from Lucky Goldstar and sold LG's semiconductor business to Hyundai, now SK Hynix Inc, under government-led restructuring in the wake of the Asia financial crisis in the late 1990s. Major affiliates are LG electronics Inc, display maker LG Display and electric car battery maker LG Chem. Prior to its chairman's death, LG Group had established a holding company in order to streamline ownership structure and begin the process of succession. The country's powerful family-run conglomerates are implementing generational succession amid growing calls from the government and public to improve transparency and corporate governance. LG Corp, a holding company of the electronics-to-chemicals conglomerate, said on Thursday its longtime chairman was unwell and planned to nominate his son to its board of directors in preparation for a leadership succession. Heir apparent Koo Kwang-mo is from the fourth generation of LG Group's controlling family. He owns 6 percent of LG Corp and works as a senior official at LG Electronics. The senior Koo's younger brother, the group's vice chairman Koo Bon-joon, who led LG electronics for many years, effectively managed the conglomerate in his stead. South Korean prosecutors said this month they raided LG Group's head office as part of a probe into alleged tax evasion by family members controlling the conglomerate. Analyst do not see a change at the helm being disruptive to the group's business. ‘Although Koo passed away at a relatively early age, his son has been already in a senior position and I don't think there will be a big change in governance structure or strategic decisions,’ said Park Ju-gun, head of corporate analysis firm CEO Score. The company said Koo's funeral would be held privately at the request of the family.
* North says tunnels will be collapsed for dismantlement * Journalists to be invited to event - KCNA * North Korea-US summit scheduled for June 12 North Korea has scheduled the dismantlement of its nuclear test site for sometime between May 23 and 25 depending on weather conditions in order to uphold its previous pledge to discontinue nuclear tests, state media reported on Saturday. The country's central news agency said the dismantlement of the nuclear test ground would involve collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts. "The Nuclear Weapon Institute and other concerned institutions are taking technical measures for dismantling the northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK in order to ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test," said the announcement. DPRK is an acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The announcement comes after US President Donald Trump said he would hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. It will be the first meeting ever between a sitting US president and the leader of North Korea. It follows a flurry of international engagement with North Korea as the two Koreas held their own summit in late April and officials plan to hold high-level meetings in coming weeks. Trump's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday North Korea can look forward to "a future brimming with peace and prosperity" if it agrees to quickly give up its nuclear weapons. Officials in Seoul had said in April that North Korea planned to invite experts and journalists from the United States and South Korea for the shutdown of its test site. North Korea said journalists from other countries, including the United States and South Korea, will be invited to cover the event, to "show in a transparent manner the dismantlement of the northern nuclear test ground to be carried out". In order to accommodate the travelling journalists, North Korea said various measures would be taken including "opening territorial air space". All international journalists will be provided with a charter flight into Wonsan, a port city in eastern North Korea, from Beijing, KCNA said. There, reporters will board a charter train to the nuclear test ground in an "uninhabited deep mountain area". North Korea's six known nuclear tests have taken place in Punggye-ri, a location in the northeastern part of North Korea where a system of tunnels have been dug under Mount Mantap. Experts have said the pledge to dismantle the test site is a big step forward but verifying it will be difficult.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's trip to Singapore for talks with US President Donald Trump poses logistical challenges that are likely to include using Soviet-era aircraft to carry him and his limousine, as well as dozens of security and other support staff. The choice of Singapore as the site of the first-ever meeting of a sitting US president and a North Korean leader was as much because it was within reasonable flight time and distance from Pyongyang as because of the island state’s political neutrality, a South Korean presidential official told reporters. Since becoming North Korea’s leader in 2011, Kim has only taken one known overseas trip by air - and that was earlier this week to Dalian in China to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He flew in his personal Ilyushin-62M jet accompanied by a cargo plane that people with knowledge of North Korean affairs say is believed to have carried his limousine. "It looks very much like the trip to Dalian was a dry run," said Andray Abrahamian, a research fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS and formerly with Choson Exchange, a Singapore-based group that trains North Koreans in business skills. At 4,700 km from Pyongyang's Sunan airport, Singapore is easily in the range of the Il-62M aircraft. The Soviet-era narrow-body jet with four engines was first introduced in the 1970s and has a maximum range of 10,000 km. But the Ilyushin-76 cargo plane cannot fly more than 3,000 km without refuelling if carrying a full load. It will therefore have to stop off at a friendly location like Vietnam’s capital on the way to Singapore or fly with a reduced load. The Il-76, originally designed for moving heavy machinery to remote parts of the Soviet Union, is big enough to fit a school bus or two shipping containers inside it, according to passenger and cargo flight operator Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions. But the cargo plane has had some safety issues. In the latest incident last month, a crash killed 257 people on board after takeoff from an Algiers air base. Unlike his father Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011 and who travelled by armoured train on his rare trips abroad because he feared being shot down, according to a North Korean defector familiar with his security details, the younger leader is not known to be averse to flying. But air travel of this distance does pose a significantly greater challenge in transporting communication and security equipment and personnel needed to back up a summit meeting. Suite fit for a leader Lee Yun-keok, a defector who had worked for the North's government and now heads the North Korea Strategic Information Service Center in Seoul, said the trip will involve dozens of security personnel and equipment including possibly a personal toilet for the leader. It will also mean burning a large quantity of jet fuel, a refined oil product sharply limited by UN sanctions targeting North Korea’ imports. Kim's two planes will need around 50 metric tonnes of jet fuel per aircraft for the flight from Pyongyang to Singapore. China, the main source of fuel for the North, exported just 3 tonnes of jet fuel in March and made no official exports the two previous months, according to Chinese customs data. But the North's planes can pick up extra fuel when they fly to China and Russia for commercial operations, and international security experts believe the North may have been stockpiling the fuel which it has also used for its missile programme. "The United States had preferred Geneva," the South Korean presidential official told reporters, requesting anonymity to discuss the arrangements for the summit meeting. "But Singapore was selected as it was the most realistically viable destination Kim Jong Un could probably travel when considering the travel time and flight distance." The two sides initially considered meeting in the Panmunjom truce village straddling the Korean military border, the scene of the third inter-Korea summit attended by Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month, the official said. The official said the South did not know the reason why Panmunjom was dropped. There was no confirmation on the specific location for the meeting between Kim and Trump although there are a number of sites in Singapore that can guarantee security protection, including hotels that have experience hosting high-security events, Singapore media and a Singapore government official said. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the country was "honoured to host it, and would do our best to facilitate a smooth and successful meeting," in a telephone call with Trump on Friday. Trump said the summit would contribute to resolving the long outstanding issue of securing peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, Singapore's foreign ministry said. The meeting is scheduled for one day on June 12, but if either or both of the leaders decide to stay overnight, there is only one hotel room in all of the city that meets "security protocol" for the US president, according to a source with knowledge of previous US presidential visits. That is the 348-square-metre Shangri-la Suite in the Valley Wing of the hotel of the same name, at a current rate of S$10,000 ($7,500) a night for June 12.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday announced his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place in Singapore on June 12. "We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!" Trump said in a tweeted announcement. The location and date of the summit -- the first ever between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader -- were revealed hours after three American prisoners were released by North Korea and arrived back in the United States. Officials said that step removed the last major obstacle to the nuclear-focused summit, providing Trump with tangible evidence that his policy of engagement was reaping rewards. The small Southeast Asian city state of Singapore has long acted as a bridge between the United States and China. The Trump-Kim summit has no precedent in US-North Korean relations. No US president has met with his North Korean counterpart while in office. Despite the optimism of that moment, a deal to limit North Korea's nuclear programme ultimately failed. A decade on, the nuclear threat with North Korea has only grown, with the country believed to be on the cusp of developing intercontinental ballistic missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. Trump has vowed that he will not let that happen and has demanded that North Korea give up its nukes. So far the regime has not indicated it is willing to do that. Hardliners are likely see possession of a nuke as the only guarantee against US-led efforts to topple the regime. Pyongyang has yet to indicate its price for any move toward denuclearisation and may yet demand US troops withdraw from South Korea as a quid pro quo. That complex strategic puzzle will be the focus of the June 12 summit between two relatively new and untested leaders.
US President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un are likely to meet in Singapore next month, reports said Monday, as anticipation builds for unprecedented talks between the mercurial leaders. Trump said at the weekend that the two sides had settled on a date and location for the summit -- the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader -- without providing details. "We'll be announcing it soon," Trump told reporters. The landmark summit will take place in "mid-June", South Korea's Chosun Ilbo daily reported Monday, citing diplomatic sources who quoted Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton. The newspaper suggested that the possibility of Singapore hosting the landmark meeting had "increased greatly", after a decision by Trump to host South Korean president Moon Jae-in at the White House later this month, without giving further explanation. Bolton met his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong in Washington late last week to discuss plans for both locations, according to local media reports. A similar report on the weekend from South Korea's Yonhap news agency also said Singapore was firming as the favoured location for the summit. Trump had previously suggested that the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas -- the site of a recent summit between Kim and Moon -- could also be an appropriate venue for his meeting with the North's leader. Other possible sites reportedly included Mongolia and Switzerland. Preparations for the landmark meeting have gained momentum since the Korean summit late last month, which saw Pyongyang and Seoul promise to pursue the complete denuclearisation of the peninsula and a formal peace treaty to end the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korea has offered to close its nuclear test site this month -- and invited US experts to verify the move. Other less dramatic but notable signs of rapprochement have emerged almost daily, including North Korea moving its clocks forward by 30 minutes early Saturday to match time with the South.
South Korean police on Saturday prevented activists from launching anti-Pyongyang leaflets to North Korea, citing an agreement reached at a historic inter-Korean summit last month. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to restore peace and reconciliation and cease all hostile acts when they met at the border truce village of Panmunjom on April 27. "Hostile acts" include broadcasting through loudspeakers installed along their tense border and distributing propaganda leaflets to each other's side. Accordingly, the two Koreas removed their propaganda loudspeakers this week. Some 300 police were deployed at a public park in Paju City near the border where a group of some 20 activists including defectors from North Korea gathered to launch leaflets by gas-filled balloons. Police kept the activists apart from a rival group of some 40 people who accused them of seeking to ignite confrontation with the North. "Stop provoking a war," they chanted. Police surrounded a small truck carrying some 5,000 leaflets, plastic balloons and gas canisters, preventing the activists from unloading them. Park Sang-hak, a leading activist and former North Korean defector, said South Koreans were "intoxicated by Kim Jong Un's peace offensive" even though the North has not changed at all. He vowed to continue efforts to send leaflets over the border to "let North Koreans know the truth" and "bring an end to the North's Kim Jong Un regime".
US President Donald Trump said on Friday that a date and venue for his landmark summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un would be unveiled soon, as he left open the prospect of future US troop reductions in the South. "We now have a date and we have a location, we'll be announcing it soon," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on a trip to Texas. Trump pushed back at suggestions he was envisaging a drawdown of troops in South Korea as part of negotiations with Kim's regime in the North -- but he admitted it was a possibility in the longer term. "Not really, not at this moment. Certainly not," Trump said when asked if troop reductions were on the table. "We haven't been asked it," he said. "I think a lot of great things will happen. But troops are not on the table. Absolutely." The US president added, however: "Now I have to tell you, at some point into the future, I would like to save the money. You know, we have 32,000 troops there." US National Security Adviser John Bolton earlier denied as "utter nonsense" a New York Times report saying Trump had asked the Pentagon for options to prepare for drawing down the 28,500-strong US force. The Times report, which cited several unidentified officials briefed on the deliberations, said reduced troop levels were not intended to be a bargaining chip in Trump's upcoming summit with Kim. But officials acknowledged that a peace treaty between the two Koreas could diminish the need for the US forces, the Times said. Trump, who has hinted at imminent news about three Americans detained in North Korea, once more sounded an upbeat note regarding their fate. "We're having very substantive talks with North Korea and a lot of things have already happened with respect to the hostages," he said. "As I said yesterday, stay tuned," Trump added. "I think you will be seeing very, very good things." The United States has been demanding the North free Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Dong-chul and reports have said the two sides were close to reaching a deal on their release. Plans for a historic summit meeting between Trump and Kim follow months of tense sabre-rattling over Pyongyang's testing of atomic weapons and long-range missiles, including some theoretically capable of reaching the US mainland. But a spectacular detente in recent months has fed hopes of a historic turning point in the region. Seoul and Pyongyang have remained technically at war since the 1950s but South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim agreed at a landmark summit last week to work towards a permanent treaty to replace a 65-year-old armistice. Preparations for the Trump-Kim meeting have gathered further momentum since the Korean summit.
* Issue of cut in US troop level not on table for Trump-Kim summit - report * US official says report false - South Korea presidential office President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to prepare options for reducing the number of US troops in South Korea, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing several people briefed on the deliberations. Reduced US troop levels are not intended to be a bargaining chip in Trump's planned summit in late May or early June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, the Times said. The officials said, however, that a peace treaty between the two Koreas could diminish the need for the 23,500 US soldiers currently stationed on the peninsula, the newspaper said. A full withdrawal of US troops was unlikely, the officials said, according to the paper. But a US National Security Council official told a visiting South Korean official in Washington via telephone the report was false, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said its posture has not changed. Trump has said the United States should consider reducing the number of troops in South Korea unless South Korea shoulders more of the cost. Then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, before taking office as US secretary of state, met Kim last month and reported the North Korean leader was not demanding the withdrawal of all US forces as a precondition for a summit with Trump. South Korea said on Wednesday the issue of US troops stationed in the South was unrelated to any future peace treaty with North Korea and that American forces should stay even if such an agreement is signed.
South Korean police are seeking an arrest warrant for the youngest daughter of Korean Air Lines' chairman on suspicion of assault during a recent angry outburst, police said on Friday. Cho Hyun-min, the younger sister of the notorious "nut rage" heiress of the airline, who got into trouble over a petulant outburst in 2014, is being investigated over accusations that she threw a drink at people at a business meeting last month. Cho, 34, made a tearful apology during a media scrum on Monday when she made her first appearance for questioning at Seoul's Gangseo police station, which is leading the investigation. "The Seoul Gangseo police station requested an arrest warrant for a former senior vice president, Cho Hyun-min, related to the case of assault and obstruction of business," the police said in a statement. Cho denied any wrongdoing during questioning, police said. Police said prosecutors would decide whether to send the request to court for a ruling on her arrest. Investigators fear evidence in the case may have been destroyed, police added in the statement. "As a result of digital forensics, there is a risk of destroyed evidence, given circumstances where Korean Air discussed measures to save the situation," they said. Korean Air declined to comment on Friday. The younger Cho stepped down from her position at the airline after her father, Cho Yang-ho, its chairman, apologized for the behaviour of his daughters. The younger sister's tantrum has reignited public impatience with family-run conglomerates known as chaebol that dominate South Korea's economy, over what some people see as unchecked bad behaviour by the rich and powerful. "Police will thoroughly investigate and take stern action against gapjil," the police statement said, using a Korean term for high-handness by those in positions of power.
* Kim tells Chinese diplomat denuclearisation a ‘firm position’ * China says supports efforts to end state of war * Diplomatic efforts gather pace ahead of Trump-Kim meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told a visiting Chinese diplomat on Thursday that he is committed to denuclearisation, China's foreign ministry said, as diplomatic efforts to bring lasting peace to the Korean peninsula gather pace. China is North Korea's most important economic and diplomatic backer, despite its anger at North Korea' repeated nuclear and missile tests, and its support for strong UN sanctions against the North. However, China has also welcomed moves by North Korea to improve ties with South Korea and the United States. China's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, is visiting North Korea following last week's historic meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North's Kim Jong Un, when both pledged to improve ties. The North surprised the world several days before the summit by declaring it would dismantle its nuclear test site to ‘transparently guarantee’ its dramatic commitment to stop all nuclear and missile tests. Meeting in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, Kim told Wang that recent positive changes on the peninsula were beneficial to a peaceful resolution, China's foreign ministry said in a statement. ‘Kim Jong Un said achieving the denuclearisation of the peninsula is the firm position of the North Korean side,’ the ministry said. Wang told Kim that North Korea had seized the day and made a decisive decision, bringing positive changes. Last week's summit talks between the leaders of the two Koreans had brought about an opportunity for a political resolution, Wang added. China supported an end to the state of war on the peninsula, North Korea's shift to economic development and the resolution of North Korea's legitimate security concerns during the denuclearisation process, he said. ‘China is willing to maintain communication with North Korea on this and increase coordination.’ The 1950-53 Korean War, which technically is still going on because a peace treaty has yet to be signed. Wang also met North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. 'POSITIVE ROLE' In an earlier statement, Wang said China hoped dialogue between North Korea and the United States would be successful and that substantial progress would be made, referring to an upcoming meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump. ‘China is willing to strengthen communication with North Korea and continue to play a positive role in seeking a political solution to the Korean peninsula issue,’ Wang said. South Korea's presidential official said high-level inter-Korean talks would be held in mid-May to work on implementing the agreement reached by Kim and Moon. China had largely sat on the sidelines while the two Koreas improved ties, until Kim made a secretive trip to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in late March. Beijing has been keen to show that it has an indispensable role to play in seeking a lasting solution, concerned that its interests may be ignored, especially as Pyongyang and Washington edge closer together. The widely read Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times said in an editorial any suggestion China was being marginalised ‘is a shallow attempt to manipulate public opinion’. China preferred quieter diplomacy, it said, pointing to the secrecy surrounding Kim's meeting with Xi. ‘But Seoul, for its own political purposes, created much hype about the inter-Korean summit. US President Donald Trump has started claiming credit for the Kim-Trump summit before it even starts,’ it said.
South Korea, China and Japan will hold a trilateral summit in Tokyo next week, Seoul announced on Tuesday, the latest move in a diplomatic whirlwind centred around North Korea. The gathering on May 9 will bring together the South's President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, in the neighbours' first such meeting for more than two years. It follows a historic summit between Moon and the North's leader Kim Jong Un last Friday. They vowed to pursue denuclearisation and a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, setting the mood for Kim's much-anticipated face-to-face encounter with US President Donald Trump. But analysts have urged caution, warning that similar previous pledges have come to nothing, and that the North has yet to make clear what concessions it is willing to make regarding its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. All three of the neighbours are deeply involved with North Korea -- the South as its neighbour, key US ally Japan as a sometime target for its threats, and China as its key diplomatic backer and business partner. "We want to confirm cooperation with President Moon ahead of a summit between the US and North Korea," Abe said during a visit to the Jordanian capital Amman, describing the upcoming summit as "very significant". "I want to thoroughly discuss how we can have North Korea walk on a right path, resolve the abduction, missile and nuclear issues and create a bright future," he added, referring to the North's abduction of Japanese in previous decades to train as spies. Friday's summit, in which Kim and Moon exchanged smiles, handshakes and warm words in front of the world's cameras, was a marked contrast to the tensions of last year. The North staged its most powerful nuclear test to date and launched missiles capable of reaching the US mainland as Kim and Trump traded threats of war and personal insults, sparking global security fears. The thaw between the Koreas, triggered by the Winter Olympics in the South, has repercussions for the geopolitics of the region. Japan has long maintained a hardline position on negotiations with Pyongyang but has found itself left on the sidelines. With concerning growing in Tokyo over whether it should change tack, a hawkish Abe expressed a willingness to meet Kim -- a message which Moon relayed to the North's leader during the summit. Kim said in response he was "willing to talk to Japan any time", Moon's office said on Sunday, adding the South's leader would be "happy to build a bridge" between the two nations. But Moon's trip to Tokyo will be the first visit by a South Korean leader to Japan in more than six years, with relations between the US allies marred by disputes over history and territory. Nuclear testing site Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying confirmed that Li will attend the trilateral meeting in Japan, in a statement reported by the official Xinhua news agency. No further details were provided. During a day-long visit to Tokyo, Moon will "share the result of the inter-Korea summit and discuss ways to strengthen trilateral cooperation to denuclearise and establish peace on the Korean peninsula", Moon's office said in a statement. Moon also asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Tuesday for UN inspectors to observe the promised shutdown of the North's only known nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri. In Tokyo, Moon will also have a separate summit with Abe to discuss ways to develop "future-oriented ties" with Japan, it added. The South and Japan face a common threat from the North's nuclear and missile technology but have locked horns over the issue of South Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II, and a row over Seoul-controlled islets claimed by Tokyo. The two Koreas share a bitter resentment over Japan's brutal 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula and the so-called "comfort women" are a hugely emotional issue in the South. Moon's predecessor Park Geun-hye reached a controversial deal with Japan in 2015 under which Tokyo offered 1bn yen ($8.3mn) to the victims. But some of them slammed the deal, saying it did not oblige Japan to take legal responsibility, and Moon has repeatedly urged Tokyo to do more. Life-size bronze statues of a girl symbolising "comfort women" have been installed in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul and its consulate in Busan. Dozens of activists clashed with police on Tuesday as they attempted to set up another statue commemorating slave labourers at the Busan site. Ties are further strained by the islets called Dokdo in Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo. The last visit by a South Korean head of state to Japan was 2011 when Park's predecessor Lee Myung-bak met then-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Ties soured after Lee made a surprise visit to Dokdo a year later.
North and South Korea began dismantling loudspeakers that blared propaganda across their heavily fortified border on Tuesday, South Korea's defense ministry said, fulfilling a promise made at last week's historic summit. The moves are the first practical, if small, steps toward reconciliation and come after an agreement in the joint declaration signed at Friday's summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North's Kim Jong Un. Activity at several spots along the border indicated North Koreans were taking down the speakers, a defense official said. South Korea started doing the same at 2 p.m. local time, he said. For decades, with only a few breaks, the two sides have pumped out propaganda from huge banks of speakers as a form of psychological warfare. The South broadcast a mixture of news, Korean pop songs and criticism of the northern regime, while the North blasted the southern government and praised its own socialist system. As a sign of goodwill, the South had stopped its propaganda ahead of the summit, and the North followed suit. In another small sign after Friday's summit, North Korea said Monday it would shift its clocks forward half an hour to align with its southern neighbour starting May 5. The incremental steps come amid speculation about where Kim will meet US President Donald Trump, who said their planned summit could take place in three or four weeks. Trump tweeted Monday that meeting Kim at the Peace House in the demilitarized zone, where Moon met Kim, would be an excellent venue. ‘There's something that I like about it because you're there, you're actually there. Where, if things work out, there's a great celebration to be had on the site, not in a third-party country,’ Trump later told reporters at the White House. But a senior US official said Singapore was still high on the list of potential sites. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday Singapore had not had any request to host the Kim-Trump meeting. South Korea's presidential Blue House seemed to welcome the prospect of hosting the meeting in Panmunjom, the border village where the Peace House is located. ‘Panmunjom is quite meaningful as a place to erode the divide and establish a new milestone for peace,’ a senior presidential official told reporters, asking not be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. ‘Wouldn't Panmunjom be the most symbolic place?’