Historic North Korea Summit explainer and backstory


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Read the transcript:

HISTORIC AMERICA/NORTH KOREA SUMMIT — HOW DID IT MEASURE UP?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, June 12th is a day that many of us will remember for a long time. No doubt, it could go down as a very significant day in the relations between the United States and the people of South Korea and the people of North Korea. That, of course, is the date of the Singapore summit. Let’s just take a look at that today now that the dust has settled.  

DR. REEDER: There’s a backstory to this that I want to get to that I think is really important.

FIRST AGREEMENT: TO ESTABLISH PEACE

TOM LAMPRECHT: There are four very broad bullet points that both Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump signed. The first bullet point says: “The United States and North Korea commit to establish new U.S.-North Korea relations in accordance with the desire of the people of the two countries for peace and prosperity.”

DR. REEDER: Whenever you hear that, you are reminded immediately, from a Christian world and life view, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We have said many times that war is never a foreign policy instrument; war is the failure of foreign policy. While foreign policy can never be peace at any cost, there needs to be a peace and people being willing to pay a cost.

To have peace not simply between the North Korean nation and the United States, to have that as an objective, is certainly desirable but even more so, if you’ve lived in South Korea, you would desperately want peace as well.

That raises the specter of the distinct possibility of the greatest desire of many of the South Koreans that I know and that great desire is a reunification of the Koreans. They look at it this way: if the wall can come down in East Germany and West Germany and they can be reunited, then cannot the line of demarcation, the 38th parallel, eventually be erased and there be a reunification of the Koreans?

Of course, something has got to happen in North Korea, which deifies its dictator and he has unfettered authority and control, which never can be a part of the reunification, but they see this as a possible step. And I was actually with a large number of South Koreans and those who, at one time, were in North Korea that were refugees and are now pastors in the Presbyterian Church in America. I was with a large number of them while all of this was going on and their hopefulness is unbounded.

They said, “You have no idea our tears when we saw Kim Jong Un shaking hands with our president and what that could possibly lead to.” And those who, of course, I was with, they are distinctly praying for that. In fact, one president of a seminary who is Korean, when I was talking with him, the tears were welling up in his eyes at the thought of the possibility.

SECOND AGREEMENT: LASTING PEACE (AND POSSIBLE REUNIFICATION?)

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, the second bullet point is very similar to the first, although it talks about the lasting and stable peace. “The United States and North Korea join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula.” This might be a good time to bring up the fact that there was something missing from this agreement and that was the human rights issue in North Korea.

DR. REEDER: The backstory that everyone is saying, of course, is that it is on the table and it is being talked about. There will be no progress, ultimately, to this treaty without the affirmation of human rights — that is what is being promised — but I find it troublesome that it was not on the front burner and not stated upfront and even the highlighting of those who we know right now — American, Japanese and South Koreans — that are in these horrendous situations, imprisoned and tortured.

Particularly, of course, we are fully aware of the large number of Christians in North Korea that have come under this torture. I am actually making a personal plea and initiative to our present administration that this not simply be assumed that it’s going to be worked on, but that it be made a front piece issue in the conversations.

THIRD AGREEMENT: DENUCLEARIZATION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Bullet point three reaffirming the April 27th, 2018 declaration: “The North Koreans commit to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

DR. REEDER: Now we’re back to something positive. No longer is it nuclear control and no longer is a nuclear simple treaty over freezing the number of nuclear weapons. Most discussions in the past have simply been around, “You can’t do testing. You can’t make advances,” and simply retarding the nuclear program of North Korea.

This treaty has put on the table, front and center, the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula. There still remains some definition to that, but that is a pretty clear statement that I find extremely encouraging, which is why it was important to declare the United States commitment to the security of the Korean peninsula if, in fact, our treaty would insist on their removing nuclear weapons.

And immediately comes to mind President Reagan’s language that any such commitment has to have not simply a trust factor, but a verification factor. That was something that is, in a meaningful way, missing in the Iran treaty. What you will look to is trust, confirm and verify of the commitment to denuclearize.

FOURTH AGREEMENT: RETURNING OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS’ REMAINS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Point four apparently was added during the discussions between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump: “The United States and North Korea commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

DR. REEDER: That would include those who have died having been imprisoned during the Korean conflict. I think that was an important addition that needs to be able to bring a focus to their grieving process and some closure to it. That was an important issue.

THIS IS A GREAT POINT WHERE CHRISTIANITY CAN RETURN

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I guess the big question many people are asking is what is different this time?

DR. REEDER: Part of the reason they got to the table was, in some form or fashion, the present administration was able to get the Chinese to bring some pressure to bear upon Korea and, therefore, the hollowing out of their economy.

They are at a very precarious position in their economy where things just cannot continue. They’re fully aware of that and now, hopefully, China will maintain that pressure, very much the way the pressure of the economy brought the Iron Curtain down and the East German economy and the Russian economy just came to a hollowing out and they could not exist and, therefore, an unheard-of openness to relationships was established with the “Communist Bloc” under the Reagan presidency. In whatever form or fashion, in this moment, the same thing seems to be happening in North Korea.

GOD HAS ACTED IN NORTH KOREA BEFORE; HOPING HE WILL AGAIN

I am praying that, through all of this, an open door for missionary work is going to be established, some way, somehow. I remember our missions pastor who has now gone to be with the Lord, Tom Cheely, he and I used to pray directly that we could see the Gospel go to North Korea unfettered and I believe that is the greatest hope for the reunification.

Tom, why is it that there are so many Christians in Korea? What many people do not know is that Pyongyang was the epicenter of a revival in the late 19th and early 20th century in Korea. It was led by evangelical Presbyterians and, right there, in Pyongyang, was the place where the epicenter was. In fact, the very first seminary is on a hill right there in that capital city. It has been taken over by the communist government and actually made a museum of communism, but the building is still there and I am praying that again, one day, there is going to be an evangelical reformed Presbyterian seminary again — if not, then I’m more than happy for it to be an evangelical Baptist seminary — but I am praying for that to happen.

One of the reasons there are so many Christians in South Korea is how many fled from North Korea at the conclusion of the Korean conflict and went to South Korea. The actual epicenter of the Korean revival and awakening in the 20th century was not in South Korea but it was in North Korea and the Korean war pushed them south because of the persecution that was brought to them.

They are all praying that they will be able to go back north, they have family there, they have churches that are still there and they want that Gospel door to open up again. When you hear that name, Pyongyang, remember that was the epicenter of a Gospel movement. Pray that it will again happen.

And the symbol for me, Dr. Joel Kim, the president of Westminster Seminary, shared in such a powerful way in a talk that I heard him give, is that seminary on that hill one day will no longer be claimed for use to display Communist history, but will be liberated and again the teaching of the word of God and the training of Gospel ministers will again take place and that’s my great hope right now in Korea.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

5 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

5 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn