Trump Meets Kim in North Korea


Donald Trump made history overnight as the first sitting US President to visit North Korea. The POTUS met Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone Sunday and walked 20 steps into North Korea.

Trump spontaneously offered Kim to shake hands at the DMZ on Saturday and security officials on both sides scrambled to make it happen. The two met for about 50 minutes in a US effort to revive talks with the hermit kingdom. From CNN:

“Would you like me to step across?” Trump asked Kim as they shook hands. “I am OK with it.”

While inside North Korean territory, Trump and Kim shook hands and patted each other’s backs before returning across the border to the South after about a minute.

“I never expected to meet you at this place,” Kim, who appeared overjoyed in the moment, told Trump through an interpreter.

Later, Trump said he was “proud to step over the line” and thanked Kim for the meeting. He invited him to the White House, though later acknowledged such a visit would likely not come soon.

The North Korean leader said he was surprised by Trump’s request to meet, and accepted the offer due to their “excellent relationship” and the significance of meeting at the border.

“I think meeting here, two countries that have a hostile past, we are showcasing to the world that we have a new present and we have a positive meeting going forward,” he said.

After the historic handshake, the two men met inside the Freedom House at the DMZ for just under an hour — a more substantial session than Trump previewed earlier when he said his encounter with Kim would amount to little more than a handshake.

As with everything in foreign policy, we will have to wait to see if the visit helped. But what are your first impressions? Was Trump’s visit a masterful negotiating move? A naive one?

Published in Foreign Policy
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  1. Franco Inactive

    Does anyone know how to ‘be’ with a paranoid schizophrenic? I know a little. The first thing is to be generally accepting and non-threatening. You listen and respect their point of view. You do not judge and publicly condemn them. Challenging them should be well thought-out and timed appropriately. Don’t expect positive results doing that. 

    Even if Kim is ‘sane’,  clearly his state is insane. So a therapeutic strategy is advised in either case.

    The casual approach was something special in diplomacy. I doubt they teach that at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

    Hey, I’m in the neighborhood, no big deal but let’s touch base. I could even historically venture over the border, whateva 

    your buddy,







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  2. jeffversion1.0 Coolidge

    I don’t know if “masterful” is a word I’d use, but I like that he doesn’t  seem to be running the same tired plays from the same tired playbook.  Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.  If it doesn’t, based on how it looks now, we’re likely no worse off than before.

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  3. Hugh Member

    Go Donald! Go Donald! Go Donald!

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  4. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl

    One thing about this event is that there must be a whole lot of Official Officials who got their minds blown. This is the sort of thing that Trump does because he doesn’t know that the Official Officials are supposed to do a lot of stupid crap first. That this POTUS goes wandering off-script like this must cause them so much stress!

    It’s hilarious!! I’ve been involved in the world of Official Officials, and it is simply inconceivable that people who have worked so hard to get themselves a really nice bureaucratic position in the FedGov would be standing there watching Trump do this kind of improv and not be wringing their hands. These things are just NOT DONE LIKE THIS.

    I love it.

    And, if somehow, this leads eventually to more freedom in North Korea, or stupid little Kim getting deposed, or a reduction in the arms race, or some other good thing, then Bravo, Bravo!! I think I heard some commentator breathlessly stating that it was wrong because now there are photos of Trump in North Korea, and that is like some sort of plus in the column of Little Kim. Really, how? There are so many “rules” that are just made up by the vast bureaucracy over the years. Now Trump, not privy to all these “rules” because he has not been a bureaucrat, just comes along and does things his way. It’s a wonder to watch it happening.


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  5. Guruforhire Inactive

    I don’t know.  Its nice to see something other than paying them.


    I think the selection of Singapore for the original summit still points the way.  “You can keep your god-king status and have a prosperous first world country if you just stop being a PITA with everybody around you.”

    I think that if you consider this the Northstar, the Trump strategy here is trying to show them a different and better future, and building mutual trust enough to get there.

    As long as we are focused on getting rid of the Kim regime, peace isn’t going to happen.

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  6. Danny Alexander Member
    Danny Alexander

    Tokyo denizen here.*

    On reflection, what’s actually amazing to me is that ROK President Moon Jae-In didn’t break ranks with President Trump on this.  Not that I can imagine any legitimate grounds for his doing so, but then again, every so often Moon seems to make these little moves and/or statements just to get up Trump’s nose.  That didn’t seem to happen in this instance.

    Indeed, it might be that Moon (and Kim) reacted so positively precisely because Trump’s move here was almost Korean in its wild-cowboy unpredictability. 

    I’m going to power through here to an irresponsibly blanket statement about a culture (Korean) and two different polities (ROK and DPRK), but from my limited experience working with South Koreans (and doing so based in Tokyo, to boot), as well as my experience with first-gen Korean-American college roommates/block-mates, there is indeed a wild-cowboy streak in more than a few folks originating from the peninsula across the water from me.  Sometimes it manifests itself in a welcome sort of calculated daring that puts the Japanese to shame; sometimes it manifests itself in a not-so-welcome form of recklessness that is indisputably based on no calculation whatsoever beyond some brain-eruptions about face or simple belligerence.

    Whatever the case, President Trump’s move here seemed culturally aligned — whether he was consciously targeting just such an impression probably won’t be known until the memoirs and/or a fair biography reaches the bookstores.

    Note well, whatever the angle or spin, it’s undeniable that Trump made this move from a position of relative overall strength — he’s proactively put the hurt not just on the Kim regime, but also on the Xi regime, the Khamenei/IRGC regime, and even to some extent the Putin kleptocracy, not to mention the Maduro junta.  The POTUS has got his mojo workin’!…

    * Might not be a Tokyo denizen for much longer, unless I can finally land a full-time job here after over 6 months of horrendously frustrating job-hunting.  (I’ve only got 6 weeks left on my current visa…)  I’m the only Danny Alexander in Tokyo on LinkedIn that I’m aware of, so if you think you can help, please reach out ASAP!

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  7. EJHill Podcaster

    Yesterday on Twitter a Friend of Ricochet™️ revived the argument that Trump, once again, handed Kim a public relations “win” by meeting him at the DMZ. The assertion that this somehow helps Kim maintain power is ludicrous.

    If isolating North Korea’s leaders and refusing them a photo opportunity with the American President worked, why are they still in power? Shouldn’t the whole thing collapsed decades ago?

    This naïveté is rampant and has been spouted endlessly by “experts” on both the Left and the Right. The bottom line is that nothing keeps a dictator in power other than raw, unadulterated brutality. Name an authoritarian regime and I’ll show you an impoverished population. The trick to survival is providing for your thugs. Feed them, pay them, make them fear you, assure their loyalty and you’re home free. It worked for decades in the USSR, in Cuba, in Maoist China and currently in North Korea and Venezuela. No amount of PR denial is going to change that.

    Flattery may be unseemly but as the old saying goes you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Trump approaches negotiating from a Wharton perspective, not the Kennedy School of Government. The latter has produced a Sir Humphrey Appleby mindset, that is, if you can get hundreds of people who were educated in the same manner to agree on policy then that proves it’s the correct policy – even if it never works.


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