Summoned to the Oval Office on the spur of the moment, the South Korean envoy found himself face to face with President Trump one afternoon this past week at what he thought might be a hinge moment in history.
Chung Eui-yong had come to the White House bearing an invitation. But he opened with flattery, which diplomats have discovered is a key to approaching the volatile American leader. "We could come this far thanks to a great degree to President Trump," Mr. Chung said. "We highly appreciate this fact."
Then he got to the point: The United States, South Korea and their allies should not repeat their "past mistakes," but South Korea believed that North Korea ’s mercurial leader, Kim Jong-un, was "frank and sincere" when he said he wanted to talk with the Americans about giving up his nuclear program.