Critics question why Trump gave Kim Jong-un legitimacy on the world’s stage and why he offered such lavish praise at the summit, pointing out correctly that he has murdered his own people and committed numerous human rights violations. All previous US diplomatic attempts with leaders of this secretive country have ended badly. Is there reason to believe that results will be more favorable this time? Is Kim Jong-un, perhaps, different than his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, or his father, Kim Jong-il?
Actually, he is quite different. Although academic records are incomplete and, in some cases, records may have been mixed up with those of his brother who was there at the same time, Kim spent a large part of the 1990s at a boarding school in Switzerland. He enjoyed western sports, especially basketball. And he followed the NBA. “He was chaperoned by an older student, who was thought to be his bodyguard.”
In the early years of his education, Kim “was described as shy, a good student who got along well with his classmates.”
In later years, he was described as a well-integrated and ambitious student who liked to play basketball. However, his grades and attendance rating are reported to have been poor. According to some reports, classmates described Kim as a shy child who was awkward with girls and indifferent to political issues, but who distinguished himself in sports and had a fascination with the American National Basketball Association and Michael Jordan.
Kim spent a large part of his formative years immersed in western culture and appeared to embrace it. He was also removed from the day-to-day influence of his father.
Upon returning to North Korea in 2000, Kim earned a degree in Physics from Kim Sung-il University and later graduated from a military officer program in Pyongyang.
Because Kim Jong-un was not the oldest of Kim Jong-il’s sons, he did not grow up believing he would lead the nation upon his father’s death. Kim’s long-time chef, Kenji Fujimoto, with whom he enjoyed a strong relationship, said that Kim’s older half-brother was passed over to succeed the father because he had a “feminine character.”
Kim has superb physical gifts, is a big drinker and never admits defeat… Jong-un smokes Yves Saint Laurent cigarettes, loves Johnnie Walker whisky and has a Mercedes-Benz 600 luxury sedan.
Clearly, he appreciates the luxuries offered by the West.
The following anecdote from Fujimoto shows how very different Kim is from his father and grandfather.
When Jong-un was 18, he once questioned his lavish lifestyle and asked, “We are here, playing basketball, riding horses, riding jet skis, having fun together. But what of the lives of the average people?”
So, at least on this one occasion, Kim demonstrated compassion for others.
Because little is known about this young man, we have to gather what we can from our personal observations. He does not seem to be difficult to read. My impression is that he is a “people” person. It’s easy to see how he and Dennis Rodman would have fun together.
As he made his debut on the world stage, Kim initially appeared nervous, and dare I say, a bit humbled. This was, no doubt, the most important moment of Kim’s life. Trump was statesmanlike, gracious, tried to put Kim at ease.
Fate has placed Kim in the role of a punk, third-world dictator and he has assumed that role; however, he lacks the ruthlessness and the intensity of his father and grandfather. Nor did he inherit their unbridled, irrepressible compulsion for control at any cost. He seems infinitely more “reachable” as well.
Kim loves his power and maintaining his grip on power is a non-negotiable demand. But he seems genuinely ready to usher North Korea into the modern world. The pleasant experiences of his years in Switzerland have instilled in him an appreciation of Western culture.
Trump’s non-negotiable demand is the complete denuclearization of North Korea. Contrary to reports from North Korean state media (and the fears of the American left) that the sanctions will be lifted, the agreement states that they will remain in place until measurable progress toward complete denuclearization takes place. That is non-negotiable.
(Note: on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in South Korea that the “Trump administration wants to see North Korea take concrete steps toward denuclearization before the end of President Trump’s first term.” He also reiterated “any sanction relief for North Korea is tied to their efforts to denuclearize. Trump made it ‘incredibly clear’ to Kim that denuking is key to lifting sanctions.”)
Although Trump is taking a risk on Kim, he recognizes that Kim is not his father or his grandfather, that a denuclearized Korean Peninsula would dramatically improve global security and that the time to strike is now while the Regime is feeling tremendous financial pressure from the economic sanctions.
Harry Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies at the Center for the National Interest, had this to say about President Trump. “He’s willing to take risks, that’s the thing. He’s willing to actually put political capital into this. A lot of other Presidents wouldn’t do that. Barack Obama wouldn’t do that. That’s why the American people voted for him.”
Finally, we have to ask, what is the alternative? We need only to look at the lawless, failed state that Libya has become since Hillary Clinton convinced a reluctant President Obama that the world would be better off without Muammar Qaddafi.
Upon Trump’s return from Singapore, he sent out the following tweets, perhaps a bit prematurely. An exaggeration? Yes, but we’ll forgive him. The last five days have been a whirlwind for him.
Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!
Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer – sleep well tonight!
If Trump seems overly confident about this deal, maybe he knows something we don’t. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been working on this deal for quite some time now and, surely, we are not privy to all the details.
Still, his tweets sound eerily reminiscent of George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” sign on the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003, before the long insurgency began in Iraq.
Susan Rice, criticized President Trump for “blowing up the room” at the recent G-7 meeting. But that’s what he does. He blows up the room and that’s how he gets things done. And that’s why he won the election.
Trump’s unorthodox approaches are the reason for many of his successes. He is bold, he is focused and sorry, mainstream media, but he is smart. He doesn’t need to study poll results before making a decision.
Trump was not afraid to answer Kim’s threats with threats of his own. There is certainly a time and a place for diplomacy, such as the summit, but there is also a time to meet aggression with aggression. A lifetime spent making deals with business leaders from around the world has ingrained in him a keen understanding of human nature. He is shrewd and perceptive. When he said he knows if he’ll like someone in the first five seconds, the media ridiculed him. But, I think we all get that.
Not even the President’s critics can deny that he has accomplished something previously thought to be impossible. This was a pivotal moment indeed. From the “handshake” witnessed by the world, through the press conference, Trump was on top of his game.
Will the left finally admit that, contrary to Donald Trump’s election being the worst thing that could ever have happened to America, it is turning out to be the best thing? Nah!
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