Trump reportedly asked South Korea's president to publicly give him kudos for the talks with North Korea

  • Earlier this month, South Korean and North Korean officials met for landmark negotiations amid the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
  • President Donald Trump reportedly asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to publicly acknowledge his role in advancing the bilateral talks between the two Koreas.
  • Moon later said Trump deserved credit and that he made a "huge" contribution to the talks.


Less than a week after North Korea signaled interest in participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, President Donald Trump reportedly asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to publicly acknowledge his role in progressing the bilateral talks between North and South Korea, according to a Washington Post report.

Five days later, during his New Year's press conference, Moon raised eyebrows after saying Trump deserved credit for facilitating the talks. Answering a reporter's question, Moon grinned and said he believed the US president made a "huge" contribution to the first dialogue between North and South Korea in over two years, and said that he wanted "convey his thanks."

Meanwhile, Trump touted his role in the negotiations that, at least on the surface, appeared to be progressing at the time.

"Right now, they're talking about Olympics," Trump said at a press conference, two days after the call with Moon. "It's a start. It's a big start. If I weren't involved, they wouldn't be talking about Olympics right now. They'd be doing no talking or they would be much more serious."

During his call with Moon, Trump reportedly referred the South Korean president as "Jae-in," the equivalent of calling someone by their first name in South Korea, while Moon called Trump "Mr. President," people familiar with the matter said to The Post.

RELATED: North Korea and South Korea's truce village of Panmunjom

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North Korea and South Korea's truce village of Panmunjom
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North Korea and South Korea's truce village of Panmunjom

'Peace House' sits on the South Korean side of the truce village Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). This is where talks between North and South took place on January 9.

 (ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

The six blue and white buildings straddle the demarcation line and are jointly used conference rooms.

REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak 

Over the years, many photos have captured North Korean soldiers looking into these rooms when they're in use by South Korea.

 (Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun-pool/Getty Images)

On several occasions, North Koreans took photos of the rooms through the windows while they were in use.

 (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

Minutes from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commissions meetings are placed in a mailbox marked KPA (Korean People's Army) in a conference room.

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

These are the tables where the Korean War armistice agreement was signed on July 27, 1953 in Panmunjom.

 ( ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

Outside, North Korean workers are employed to sweep the North's compound.

(KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images)

They are also hired to tend the North's lawn.

REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak 

Trees line the 'Bridge of No Return' where prisoners of war were able to choose between the North and South by walking either direction after the 1953 agreement.

 (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

North Korean soldiers walk past a propaganda painting in Panmunjom.

 (ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearby, South Koreans watch an announcement of a North Korean missile launch on TV inside a store.

(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

 While students study under a heavy military presence.

 (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

In Daeseong-dong, the only village where citizens can reside in the DMZ, soldiers regularly attend school graduations.

 (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Panmunjom can be reached by train. This is the entrance to Dorasan train station, the northernmost stop on South Korea's railway.

(Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

While civilian trains don't run to Pyongyang, cross-border trade occurred for a brief time around 2007, and the signs remain.

(Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

Groups of tourists are allowed into the heavily guarded conference rooms which sit across the Korean border, allowing people to technically enter North Korea.

 (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

They can pose in front of a giant picture of the DMZ border.

 (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

Or take photos of the real thing.

 (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

CCTV shows footage of the third infiltration tunnel, one of four tunnels built by North Korea to send troops quickly and quietly into South Korea. Tourists now visit these.

(Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

An observation platform lets tourists and foreign dignitaries look into North Korea.

 (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

What they see is North Korea's propaganda village of Gijungdong.

 (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Workers can also be seen in North Korean fields.

 (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

DMZ souvenirs are available for purchase.

 (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

And a few kilometers away, a South Korean souvenir shop sells North Korean beer.

 (RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP/Getty Images)

It also sells locally produced soy beans. The region is inhabited by a few hundred farmers who grow ginseng, rice, and soy beans.

 (RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP/Getty Images)

Camp Bonifas is also near Panmunjom. In this 2003 photo, US soldiers watch President George W. Bush's state of the union address.

(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Also near Panmunjom is the Imjingak Peace Park.

 (Truth LEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

People regularly leave messages of peace and unity on ribbons at a DMZ fence.

 (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

Back in Panmunjom, North Korean soldiers directly face South Koreans. This is next to the spot where a North Korean soldier defected across the border in November.

 (Photo by Korea Pool/Getty Images)

North and South Korea spoke on a dedicated phone line at the border village of Panmunjom on January 3, 2018.

 (Photo by South Korean Unification Ministry via Getty Images)

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But the phone call did yield results. Trump and Moon agreed to suspend their joint-military drills, which North Korea vehemently opposes, until after the Winter Olympics.

One former official reportedly expressed skepticism over Moon's assertion during the press conference — which drew some laughter in the room at the time — and said that Moon was trying to steer Trump trump away from his policy of pressuring North Korea, The Post reported.

 

A shadow over Moon's young presidency

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's provocations in 2017, namely his nuclear and missile weapons tests, cast a large shadow in South Korea and Moon's nascent administration.

Moon, who replaced his embattled conservative predecessor eight months ago, has pursued a qualified détente with North Korea. This has become even more crucial during this unpredictable period when his country is at the center of attention due to the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Though the former official claims that Moon is steering Trump away from his policy of pressure, it remains to be seen whether Moon remains capable of handling the driver's wheel. Trump's rhetoric toward North Korea and its leader, which has swayed between inconclusive praise and outright hawkishness, has arguably dictated the tone of North Korean relations.

The bilateral negotiations, which have primarily centered around North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympics, are still underway. North and South Korea have already agreed to several terms, including fielding a joint-women's ice hockey team and marching together under a unified flag during the opening ceremony.

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