For the first time, a sitting American president met with the leader of North Korea to talk about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The meeting took place in the diplomatically neutral city-state island of Singapore on Tuesday.
As part of his pitch, President Donald Trump showed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a video to sell him on what the future of his country could be if it gave up its nuclear weapons.
It was cut in the style of a Hollywood movie trailer featuring Trump as the “hand of peace” and Kim, who has the choice to “advance his country” and be the “hero of his people.”
The four-minute video contrasted black and white footage of nuclear weapons and fighter jets with colorful images of high-speed trains, skyscrapers, a drone delivering a package and even a shopping cart filled with food.
Trump said Kim seemed to have “really enjoyed” the video.
“I told [Kim], ‘You may not want this. You may want to do a much smaller version of this,’” Trump said at a press conference after he met with the North Korean leader.
Trump even pointed out the real estate potential for North Korea’s “great” beaches.
“You see that whenever [North Koreans are] exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, ‘Boy, look at the view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?’ And I explained, I said, ‘You know, instead of doing that, you could have the best hotels in the world right there,” he said.
It’s not clear what Kim thought of Trump’s proposal.
What went down
At the start of what has been billed as a historic summit between the two leaders in Singapore, Kim said it was “not easy” to get to that point.
“The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward, but we overcame all of them, and we are here today,” Kim said through his interpreter.
The United States wants North Korea to give up its nuclear program while Pyongyang wants, among other things, sanctions against the nation lifted.
At the end of five hours of talk, in which Trump and Kim also dined together on a meal of fresh green mango salad and beef short ribs, they signed a joint statement. It read:
1. The United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration [made between North and South Korea], the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
The joint statement added that Kim gave his “unwavering commitment” to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
There was no clear timeline of how the denuclearization process could be “complete,” “verifiable” and “irreversible,” which were the stated U.S. goals as reaffirmed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the eve of the summit.
Trump said he believed that the North Korean leader was sincere about complete denuclearization.
“Chairman Kim has told me that North Korea is already destroying a major missile engine testing site,” Trump said. However, he said international sanctions against North Korea will remain. “The sanctions will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor,” Trump said.
In exchange, Trump committed to providing “security guarantees” to North Korea.
During the press conference, he told reporters that the United States will be stopping its joint military exercises with South Korea, which has irked the north and neighboring China.
“We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should,” Trump said.
He described his first meeting with Kim as “tremendously successful,” while some analysts said North Korea hasn’t deviated much from what it has promised before.
At the same time, there were mixed feelings among Singapore’s residents about whether they gained more by hosting this summit.
Some local businesses successfully cashed in on the event.
A startup app that connects influencers with fans called Vybes hired Trump impersonator Dennis Alan and a Kim impersonator who calls himself Howard X.
Over the weekend, people lined up at a mall for at least two hours to see the duo, and then paid $11 to take selfies with the impersonators. Some who wanted to bypass the long line forked over $30, which included a T-shirt in the package.
Vybes estimates that the turnout was in the thousands over the two days, which surprised CEO Wei Qing Jen.
“It is very funny that these are actually not the real Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, but they really look like them, and people are just so excited to be able to take a picture with them,” she said.
The two impersonators have attracted a lot of attention, with more than 2,500 journalists from around the world descending on the tiny island.
“I am anticipating that I will get some more calls to do Donald Trump impersonations,” Alan said.
“It is a personal promotion, but I like making fun of [things]. It is what I do, I am satirist, I am here to create satire,” Howard X said.
Closer to where the real leaders were staying, the Royal Plaza on Scotts hotel created a limited-edition Trump-Kim burger: a chicken patty mixed with kimchi, a fermented cabbage.
“We wanted a fusion of the U.S. and North Korea. Of course, the burger [is] from the U.S. and kimchi from Korea,” the hotel’s General Manager Patrick Fiat said.
The burger generated enough hype that people had preordered it online, and the hotel had been selling more than a hundred a day.
Over the lunch hour, as the summit was underway, Fiat’s staff passed out mini Trump-Kim burgers as samples.
Yujin Chae, a South Korean working in Singapore, was one of those who lined up for the burger.
“I’m actually quite psyched that the special event is happening where I am,” she said, even though she was stuck on the bus for an extra 30 minutes during her morning commute because the roads were blocked off for Trump and Kim to drive past.
Security had been stepped up around the luxury hotels the leaders were staying and meeting at. The event is estimated to cost $15 million, which didn’t sit well with some Singaporeans.
“Why are we paying? Why use my money?” a taxi driver said.
He said he did less business over the last couple of days because of the temporary road blocks set up when the leaders’ convoys were on the move. The taxi driver did not give his name because he feared government retaliation.
Debbie Tan agreed that $15 million was a high price to pay, but she felt it was for the greater good and regional security.
“It’s a little bit of an honor that [the United States and North Korea] trust us,” she said.
Qiqi Gong, who brings tourists into Singapore, felt the meeting has boosted the country’s brand.
“This meeting is like an advertisement for Singapore. It’s like a company that needs to invest. Once people trust that our country is safe, then they will come and spend,” she said.
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