North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has met with the South Korean President and U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss denuclearization. The talks have gone nowhere. I say keep channels open to reunite loved ones they haven't seen each other in decades while at the same time diplomatically working on the hard issues outlined below. Here are five major hurdles listed below POLITICAL: Given that Kim’s priority is safeguarding his dynastic regime, it’s unlikely North Korea will agree to national reunification on terms that herald its own demise. And as freewheeling, democratic South Korea won’t relish wallowing under Stalinist totalitarianism, mending the political divide remains a huge sticking point. One option maybe some form of “one country, two systems” arrangement, similar to how China and Hong Kong have two uniquely different political systems under the umbrella of the same nation. However, Kim knows that relaxing internal controls — such as exchanges of people, information, and capital — enfeebles his own position as his 25 million impoverished subjects will no doubt begin agitating for economic parity with their sophisticated 50 million brethren across the DMZ. (The fall of the Berlin Wall is an example of just how this can manifest.) ECONOMIC: Even backburnering the considerable political pitfalls, economic issues are no easy fix. Largely agrarian North Korea has a GDP less than 1% of the South, which is the world’s 11th biggest economy, boasting some of the top tech and engineering firms. As such, merging the two economies would wreak hardships many times worse than when East and West German united in 1990. SOCIAL: South Korea is one of the fastest-paced, kitschiest and most competitive environments in the world. South Koreans work the second longest hours of all developed nations, with even school kids studying for 16 hours a day in a bid to gain access to one of three top universities. It has the highest rates of cosmetic surgery and teen suicide in the world. The contrast between this dog-eat-dog, helter-skelter environment and collectivized North Korea could not be starker. While all South Korean men spend two years of military service, the norm for North Koreans is ten, with schooling under the regime little more than mind-numbing indoctrination. Little wonder North Korean defectors frequently struggle to assimilate, suffering depression, failing to find work, and sometimes even return back to the North. A colossal affirmative action program would be needed to give North Koreans the skills and opportunities required to compete with their Southern peers. But this risks stoking resentment and social unrest. There’s also a good chance that some North Koreans, especially military personnel with easy access to small arms, may resort to petty larceny to get ahead. SECURITY: North Korea is believed to have a standing army of 1.1 million troops along with 7.7 million reserves. According to a South Korean Ministry of National Defense report, Pyongyang boasts more than 1,300 aircraft, some 300 helicopters, 250 amphibious vessels, 430 combatant vessels, 4,300 tanks, 2,500 armored vehicles, 70 submarines, and 5,500 multiple-rocket launchers. And lest we forget the up to 60 nuclear bombs, a bevy of short and intercontinental-range missiles, and stockpiles of 2,500 – 5,000 tons of chemical weapons the regime wields. GEOPOLITICAL: East Asia’s security architecture is delicately balanced, with South Korea and Japan the key U.S. allies, and North Korea backed by China and Russia (even if that support is fitful and waning). The North Korean threat is a large reason why the U.S. maintains some 40,000 troops in Japan and 28,500 in South Korea. Much of Chinese support for North Korea stems from its aversion to a united, U.S.-allied Korean peninsular possibly putting American troops on its border. REUNIFICATION: A formal peace treaty between North and South — would undermine Washington’s argument for its continued military presence. “There would be voices raised with the question: why are the U.S. troops still here if we have a peace regime in North Korea?” says Christopher Green, a senior researcher on the Korean Peninsular for the International Crisis Group. “So it would certainly be politically very destabilizing for South Korea.” Already, an increasingly assertive China under President Xi Jinping has taken aim at South Korea hosting the U.S. THAAD anti-missile battery. One might expect these complaints to amplify were the North Korean threat neutralized, boosting China’s regional clout at the expense of the U.S. After voicing a litany of obstacles and concerns it boils down to taking these huge challenges on one at a time and a matter of mutual trust. It seems to me this plan is futile as long as there is a vicious and dangerously aggressive dictator in the north that will not agree to any measures that might possibly diminish his ever wielding and controlling power.