trump kim jong un SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

How Kim Has Played Trump

Since the historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June, the North Koreans have reaped significant benefits without having to make any real concessions. In his desperation to clinch a major diplomatic victory, Trump has allowed Kim to get the better of him.

ATLANTA – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is eager to hold a second summit with US President Donald Trump. Since their first meeting in Singapore in June, Kim has consistently outmaneuvered his counterpart. Trump may still fancy himself a world-class dealmaker, but the truth is that Kim – like Russian President Vladimir Putin – has got Trump’s number. 

Kim’s bonhomie (real or feigned) and promises of denuclearization have muted Trump’s threats, brought the South Korean government closer to his side, and eroded international sanctions against his regime. Kim has accomplished all of this without diminishing his regime’s nuclear capacity, and he appears to have continued ballistic-missile development at 16 hidden sites. Having gone from nuclear-armed pariah to presidential negotiating partner, it is little wonder that Kim would want a second summit to consolidate his newfound international legitimacy and position in the global limelight.

Kim has already outdone his forebears. His father and grandfather both tried and failed to create a high-level channel to the US government. The relationship that Kim has forged with Trump is thus an historic and personal success. After six reclusive years in power, the 35-year-old scion of North Korea’s dynastic regime has made a remarkable debut on the world stage, both managing an erratic, ego-driven president and setting the terms of the negotiations.

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