Lynn Hartsell of Canton served two tours in South Korea starting as a young Army officer back in the 1970s.
"There were still farmers living in huts and some farmers harvesting rice by hand and the rich ones had an ox," Hartsell said.
But South Korea's economy has thrived since Hartsell's early days there, far surpassing the North's repressive regime. Hartsell believes tough economic sanctions on the North are helping drive Kim Jong Un to the nuclear negotiating table.
"I think that the sanctions are really beginning to put the vice on North Korea and I think he's looking for some relief," Hartsell said.
Hartsell suspects Kim Jong Un's real motives behind a summit with President Trump is to buy more time both in getting the sanctions lifted while further developing his nuclear arsenal.
"If Kim Jong Un says that hey, I'm going to stop my nuclear testing, what does that really mean? Does that mean he's just going to quit shooting a few missiles off for a few months," Hartsell said.
Hartsell says that's why it's important that the U.S. be able to verify any nuclear concessions from the North.
"My hope is that they reach an agreement and that we are able to denuclearize that peninsula. But I think that you have to be a bit on the naive side to think that Kim Jong Un is going to all of the sudden turn into a good guy," Hartsell said.
Hartsell has also done private consulting in South Korea after leaving the army. He says North Korea hasn't followed through on its nuclear promises of the past. But the White House says intense economic pressures from the U.S. and other nations will force the North to comply, this time around.
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A former army general, who now lives in South Dakota, is skeptical about how successful nuclear talks will be between the U.S. and North Korea. On Thursday, we learned that President Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this spring. This retired general is urging caution about the outcome.