The most recent news out of North Korea sounds familiar: The regime in Pyongyang has repeatedly extorted dialogue with the U.S. via the arbitrary arrest and severe punishment of a U.S. citizen. Ex-President Jimmy Carter’s readiness to travel to North Korea is therefore understandably controversial. Carter too knows for sure that he will be superficially treated to all-too-transparent propaganda. Yet behind that lies a positive development; this readiness to talk, formulated in the North Korean manner, is certainly better than the preceding dark threats of deploying nuclear weapons.

“It's better to bend than break” — that is the right approach now for defusing the conflict on the Korean Peninsula, especially as Carter has experience dealing with the difficult family of dictators. It still looks, however, as if Kim Jong Un is merely copying his father and grandfather with his politics, wanting thus to further isolate North Korea. As such, hopes for Carter’s trip must not be too high.