Seoul (AFP) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday played down the prospect of winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his historic summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, saying Donald Trump can have it instead.
Friday’s summit between Moon and Kim has been hailed as a major step towards easing tension on the flashpoint peninsula and setting the mood for Kim’s upcoming face-to-face encounter with the US president.
It was the third summit between the two Koreas following meetings between Kim’s late father Kim Jong Il and late South Korean presidents Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo-Hyun, in 2000 and 2007 respectively.
Kim Dae-jung won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his role in the first summit. His widow, in a congratulatory message sent on Monday, told Moon she hoped he could also win the prize, set to be announced in October.
“President Trump can take the Nobel prize. All we need to take is peace,” Moon said in response.
The US leader’s war of words with Kim last year sparked global fears of another conflict on the peninsula once left in ruins by the 1950-53 Korean War.
Trump warned of “fire and fury” against the nuclear-armed North and traded colourful personal insults with Kim, branding him “Rocket Man” while Kim called Trump a “dotard”.
But the latest conciliatory push — promoted by a dovish Moon who advocates dialogue with the North — has raised hopes of a political detente unimaginable only months ago.
Trump on Saturday touted his ability to achieve a nuclear deal with the North’s regime at a campaign-style rally in Michigan, grinning and nodding as his supporters chanted “Nobel! Nobel!”
Moon — whose humble personality endeared himself to South Korean voters — has sought to play the role of a peace broker between the two mercurial leaders of the isolated North and the US, a major ally of the South.
Major UK bookmaker Coral has Kim and Moon as favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize — with odds of 4/6 — followed by Trump and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees both with odds of 10/1.