Near but far: Trump, Kim find themselves closer than ever

SEOUL (AP) – It’s obvious to anyone who looks at a map but also, this week, especially noteworthy: The leaders of two nations that have squared off with

harsh words and threat of nuclear war are now closer to each other than New York City’s Trump Tower is to the White House.

That’s presuming North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in fact in Pyongyang, which is likely, though not as definite as President Donald Trump’s presence in Seoul, the South Korean capital. The American leader was there on Tuesday, meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and urging Kim to “come to the table” and “make a deal.”

The proximity of Trump and Kim this week is an interesting blip and, probably, little more. But it underscores a daily fact of life for the residents of the two Koreas’ capitals: Their seats of government, mortal enemies linked by a common heritage, spend every day virtually breathing down each other’s geographic necks.

Anti-war protesters wearing cutouts of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, march after a rally demanding peace on the Korean peninsula near the US Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. – AP

Seoul, home to the Blue House where South Korea’s president works, is just 200 kilometres from Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square and the heart of the North Korean regime. New York City, by comparison, is 330 kilometres from Washington, DC.

Trump will not get as near as he might to Pyongyang, however. On this trip, at least, he is not visiting the Demilitarized Zone that marks the border between North Korea and South Korea.

For direct comparison, here is an assortment of approximate distances:

  • Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia: 195 kilometres
  • Beirut to Jerusalem: 240 kilometres
  • Singapore to Kuala Lumpur: 320 kilometres
  • London to Paris: 345 kilometres
  • Miami to Havana: 370 kilometres
  • Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa: 1260 kilometres