The world laughed at Kim – it isn’t laughing now


Perhaps now the international community will admit just how badly it underestimated Kim Jong Un.

When the almost unknown young man ascended the throne of North Korea in 2011, his hair awkwardly styled to resemble his grandfather’s, he was laughed at and some wondered how long he would last.

The patronising grins started to fade when the senior officials that Mr Kim had inherited from his father began to disappear and were replaced by younger men close to the new leader. They faded further when he began to test missiles. By the time he had had both his uncle and his half-brother killed and had detonated a hydrogen bomb, the grins had vanished completely.

Mr Kim was no child king but a ruthless and brutally effective ruler in the toughest North Korean tradition.

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Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un struck an optimistic tone at the start of the summit 1:17
Video: ‘We overcame prejudices to get here’

But there is another side to him. People who have met Mr Kim describe a smiling, affable man, devoted to his family, with a ready laugh and a ready wit. He is very different from his reclusive father, who disliked making speeches or appearing in public – releasing written messages instead of delivering a traditional New Year’s Day speech.

Kim Jong Un not only reinstated the tradition of a direct address to his people but started to appear in person at political meetings and to make speeches there too.

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North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have become on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off 0:57
Video: How many handshakes? Trump and Kim love-in

He seems to enjoy public events. The Chinese, whose leaders have now spent many hours with him, say too that he thinks strategically, that when he speaks he is always crisp and to the point, and that he is well informed and reads his briefs carefully. They also say that he is careful to put people at their ease and that, leader though he is, he is always careful to show deference to older men.

It is now also clear that he is very clever, or at least is prepared to listen to sound advice. Both in the run-up to Tuesday’s summit and at the summit itself, he comprehensively out-manoeuvred Donald Trump.

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Mr Kim has walked away with the cherished prize of the first-ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a serving US president without having to concede more than a ritual repetition of North Korea’s commitment to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Did Mr Trump realise that this formula was first used in 1992 and has had no effect at all on North Korea’s determination to develop missiles and nuclear weapons?

At the summit, having arrived slightly early to show deference to a US president nearly twice his age (Asians will have noticed this courtesy), he exuded power through a calm stillness that contrasted sharply with Mr Trump, who sometimes seemed anxious to hurry proceedings on. His remark that some might think that the summit was like a scene from a science fiction film showed a wit and a wry detachment that we rarely see from Mr Trump.

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Kim Jong Un 0:17
Video: ‘Get a good picture so we look handsome’

The curious delay between the working lunch and the signature of the joint statement, and the delay in the circulation of the statement afterwards, suggest that Mr Kim had engineered last-minute changes to the document, catching the Americans off guard and leveraging the knowledge that Mr Trump wanted a document much more than he did.

Then, after the summit, Mr Kim simply left – leaving the president to face the media.

Mr Trump repeatedly told journalists what he thought Chairman Kim wanted or would do. In effect, Kim Jong Un had recruited the president of the United States as his press spokesman.

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Donald Trump sums up his historic summit with Kim Jong Un 1:54
Video: Trump sums up Kim summit

The president was quite right to reaffirm at that news conference that Kim Jong Un is talented. He was equally right to observe that that does not mean that he is nice.

Singapore was Mr Kim’s day, a coming out party at which he showed conclusively that, small poor and repressed though North Korea is, he plans to keep it right at the centre of the world stage. Kim Jong Un will never again be laughed at.

From – SkyNews