New North Korean book highlights ‘trust’ between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un meet in the demilitarized zone on 30 June. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SEOUL, May 12, 2021, NK News. North Korean state media released a new propaganda book on Wednesday highlighting Kim Jong Un’s summits with foreign leaders since 2018 and offering a positive outlook on U.S.-DPRK relations resulting from three meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump, NK News reported.

The book, titled “Ushering in a New Era of Development in External Relations” and published by the state-run Foreign Languages Publishing House via the Naenara website, also praises Kim’s five summits with Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as summits with leaders from Russia, Cuba, Singapore and Vietnam. The book does not mention Kim’s three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

On Kim Jong Un’s relationship with Donald Trump, the new book recycles the same positive language that state media first used to assess the two leaders’ summits. For example, it says Kim and Trump agreed at the Singapore summit in June 2018 to take “step-by-step and simultaneous action in the course of the effort to ensure peace, stability and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Showing the two leaders shaking hands and laughing together in what was actually a contentious summit in Hanoi in Feb. 2019, the book says the U.S. and North Korea can achieve permanent peace if they “make their way through, hand in hand, with wisdom and patience.” It also says Kim and Trump “agreed to keep in close touch in the future” and make “a new breakthrough in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and in the bilateral relations” after their brief meeting at the inter-Korean border in June 2019.

The book follows positive domestic messaging about Kim’s summits with foreign leaders as well. For example, Kim has boasted about his summit with Trump as recently as Jan. 2021, saying “DPRK-US summit talks were an event of the greatest significance in the history of world politics.”

However, U.S.-DPRK negotiations have been mostly stalled since the Hanoi summit, save for brief working-level talks in Stockholm in Oct. 2019. Pyongyang has recently kept up the rhetorical pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden as he’s set to execute a new North Korea policy.

Martin Weiser, an independent North Korea researcher and a contributing analyst to NK Pro, said Kim’s summits with Moon should not be expected to be included in the book because the publication is explicitly about “external relations,” which North Korea considers as technically separate from the category of inter-Korean relations. DPRK state media also does not typically use the term “external relations” when reporting on inter-Korean summits.

Meanwhile, North Korea has promoted friendly relations with China and Russia by rebroadcasting documentaries on Kim’s summits with Xi and Putin on Korean Central Television (KCTV) in recent weeks, but the channel has not rebroadcast any Kim-Trump summit documentaries since the one year anniversary of the Singapore summit on June 12, 2019.

Edited by Arius Derr

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