The summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un seems to be on again, with a flurry of preparatory meetings. Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday: “I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this.” But even to have any chance of defanging the North Korean nuclear menace, there’s one huge concession Mr. Trump must demand from the regime: that Mr. Kim abandon his totalitarian control over North Korea.
This totalitarianism isn’t solely a problem for human rights. North Korea is both the world’s most repressive tyranny and the only country known to have illicitly tested nuclear weapons in this millennium. These dual distinctions are no coincidence: The regime’s extreme control and strict secrecy enable both. There are no checks on Pyongyang’s official lies. Dissent is simply snuffed out.
The remedy should begin with Mr. Kim releasing the inmates from his political prison camps, in order to shut down the gulag forever. A good place to start would be the hellhole known as Camp 16, with an estimated 20,000 inmates. The camp sits less than 2 miles from the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site, where, according to reports cited by the State Department, prisoners may have been forced to work as construction crews.
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