Two weeks have passed since the second North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, and Pyeongyang and Washington are sticking to their positions.
But at the same time, they're being strategically flexible, trying not to break the negotiations.
In its human rights report published on Wednesday, Washington -- unlike last year -- did not label North Korea as one of "forces of instability."
The word "egregious" was removed as well.
This is a slight change in Washington's tone towards the regime compared to the day before.
A UN panel report pointed out Tuesday that North Korea's main nuclear facility in Yeongbyeon has remained active and that the regime continues to illegally buy petroleum and coal.
The U.S. welcomed that report as a chance to step up the enforcement of sanctions, stressing that the regime will remain economically and diplomatically isolated unless it denuclearizes.
North Korea is also staying calm.
Since the summit broke down, it has not criticized or blamed the U.S.
Rather, North Korean media are reporting that the regime is still up for complete denuclearization.
But Pyeongyang's propaganda outlets are still calling for Washington to change its position, claiming that there can be no better deal between the two sides at this point than Pyeongyang dismantling its Yeongbyeon nuclear test site and the U.S. lifting sanctions partially in return.
Both sides are trying not to break the dialogue momentum -- their actions and rhetoric show they're leaving room for future negotiations.
But because the U.S. continues to pursue a one-shot deal with North Korea, while Pyeongyang is calling for a multi-phased approach to denuclearization, it seems it will take some time until the two sides sit down with each other again.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.