During his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday, President Trump said that North Korean beaches are a prime real estate opportunity, and that some enterprising developer could build "a great condo" on the North Korean coast if the country opens up its economy to the rest of the world. The president praised both the quality and location of North Korean land, and said that the country could soon have "the best hotels in the world."
"They have great beaches," Trump said at a press conference, according to the New York Times. "You see that whenever they're exploding their cannons into the ocean. I said, 'Boy, look at that view. Wouldn't that make a great condo?'"
The focus of Trump's summit with Kim wasn't land development, of course, but rather denuclearization and geopolitical relations between the United States, North Korea and South Korea. But Trump is a former real estate tycoon himself, and he commented at length about how improved relations with the west could be a boon to North Korea's property development.
"You could have the best hotels in the world right there," the president said. "Think of it from a real estate perspective. You have South Korea, you have china, and they own the land in the middle. How bad is that, right? It's great."
To say that North Korea "own[s]" the land in between South Korea and China isn't quite so clear-cut, however. The question over who has governing authority over the peninsula was the catalyst for the Korean War, which erupted in 1950 when Northern forces attempted to take the southern half of the peninsula by force. The two armies fought for three years, with the South at one point controlling the majority of the peninsula, but the conflict ended in a stalemate, with the boundaries between the two countries roughly the same as they were before the war.
That said, the Korean War isn't technically over. The two sides signed a ceasefire in 1953 and had planned to sign a permanent peace treaty a year later that, in theory, would result in a unified Korea. But they couldn't agree on the terms of an agreement, and while the two countries did sign a symbolic nonaggression pact in 1991, the conflict over who "owns" the Korean peninsula is far from settled.
The ongoing negotiations between the United States, North Korea and South Korea may change that, however. Although it's unclear if Trump and Kim discussed the war during their meeting Tuesday, Trump did send a cryptic tweet in April proclaiming, in the style of a newspaper in headline, that "KOREAN WAR TO END!" During a summit between the North and South that same month, the two countries' leaders agreed to "actively pursue" multi-lateral negotiations with each other, the United States and China, "with a view to declaring an end to the War."
During their meeting in Singapore, Trump and Kim signed an agreement in which they pledged to "work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," repatriate the remains of soldiers killed in the war and "join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula." In a significant concession to the North, Trump also said that he will suspend the military exercises that the United States performs annually with South Korea, drills that North Korea has long viewed as highly provocative.
However, Trump did not lift the crippling economic sanctions the United States imposed on North Korea in 2017. As such, it's unlikely that there will be a real estate boom on North Korean beaches any time soon.