h/t Silicon Graybeard
The first thing to remember is that Asians in Asia are not Westerners.
(If I have to belabor the point with countless examples from throughout history to the present, you're not tall enough for this ride.) I bring this up at all because those who've no idea, generally don't know that they don't know, and that error has been the root of every Western foreign policy failure in the region for 150 years and more.
The second is to remember that the Norks aren't even like the rest of Asia.
The third is to ponder that in order to discredit the communism under which entire generations of Norks have labored, we need for it to fall, hard, and even more disastrously than communism crashed in Russia, or emperor worship crumbled in Japan. (Why is it, do you think, that we're cheerfully watching Venezuela burn to the ground? "When your enemy is making a monumental strategic blunder, stay out of his way." Much like not standing under falling trees, and for the same reasons.)
Failure of this pre-condition means that a sizable percentage of Koreans would persist in the greater-than-half-a-century monumental error that has propped the Kim dynasty up in the first place.
Like an alcoholic, the Norks simply must crash hard and hit bottom, in order to find the need for a change.
Giving them what they want, while not giving the West what we want, just gets us a mini-PRC: an expansionist military state, fueled and paid for by capitalism, of a type controlled and contained like the fuel in a nuclear reactor. Ask Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, and even Japan how that's working out for them. (Hint: Japan didn't just suddenly decide to start building aircraft carriers for the first time since the 1930s for no reason.)
As long as both China and the Norks cling to communism and state-run economic and social life, they are mortal enemies of western democratic republics, whether they chose to exploit that position fully at any given moment or not.
Once they abandon central economies, and try living as free republics, they're just another new potential ally. It's the difference between living next door to a crazy drug addict/dealer with guns, versus a guy who's clean and sober, who just likes deer and hog huntin' and big pickup trucks.
The last thing I want is to ease the pain for the Norks.
I'm willing to see things turned down a tad, provided the noose is still just tight enough that they pass out unconscious, and if while they're in that state, lose their grip on the entire nation, well...
Any moves vis-à-vis the Norks have to accord with China's interests, (or more importantly they must appear to do so) or they'll continue to be used as a pawn, and the last thing they want is a thriving capitalist economy along the Yalu River border, which will simply shift the DMZ there from the 38th Parallel.
It would also likely provide nothing but an object for the PLA military, itching for a chance for a real-world trial of their new toys, to want to grab.
North Korea exists at all as a lesson in Communist expansion circa 1945, and if its survival didn't suit TPTB on the other side, it would have been allowed to die out decades ago.
We need to flip their allegiance, and then we have a client state on the border of one of the last, and the all-time biggest, communist powers on the planet. If you're looking for a place to put the lever of freedom, that's the bastion to go for. People in the PRC can't see Taiwan, and the Hong Kong and Macau experiments expired in 1999, but the Norks travel and trade in China, and have done so forever. If you want to thaw the iceberg, the warm water needs to be right up against it.
Coupling that move with explaining to Vietnam the joys of capitalism and freedom (without trying it with B-52s this time) would really put the PRC's chestnuts in a vise. An entire generation knew Vietnam was a beautiful country with some great people, if you could just get rid of war and communism. We need to keep working on that project.
We cannot burgle Asia, and steal China's most vital client state from their orbit overnight. It would be Prague Spring or Hungary 1956 all over again.
The Norks need to be demilitarized and unshackled, bit by bit, so that China doesn't have cause to intervene until it's a fait accompli.
Anything else is merely a disaster for the people of Norkistan, and a potential trigger to fan the Cold War into a hot one.
Telling me, therefore, that things are going slowly, is probably the best news there could be, for everyone concerned.