Over the weekend, North Korean officials had some rather blunt things to say about negotiations with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In addition to stating that Donald Trump’s White House was using “gangster like” demands to threaten North Korea into agreement, officials reported that the talks actually left the two countries farther away from an agreement than when they started. In fact, North Korean officials claimed that they had been inclined to give the United States a little something, something in exchange for the massive gifts that Trump left on their doorstep.
“We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders’ summit … we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures,” said the statement, released by an unnamed spokesman and carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
But after Pompeo’s visit, and talks that North Korea called “regrettable” … not so much. Which is odd, since Pompeo came away from the same negotiating table claiming that the two countries had made great strides after “hours of productive talks.” It’s almost as if Mike Pompeo is lying to the American people in order to cover up the fact that Trump walked away from the Singapore meeting with no agreement whatsoever and Pompeo is now trying to backfill by getting North Korea to agree to US demands when Trump has already given them everything they wanted. For free.
Honestly, considering that the US already handed over one of its biggest bargaining chips in the form of joint US–South Korea military preparedness exercises, spent weeks spit-polishing a heartless dictator with positive press, and made it nearly impossible to sustain meaningful sanctions … it’s hard to know just what else Kim Jong Un might want.
And as Pompeo was desperately seeking to put together a real agreement to substitute for the one that Trump made up in his head, but definitely did not get down on paper, it appears that Kim Jong Un had a great way to show just how much he values the discussion at this point. While Pompeo was in Pyongyang, New York Magazine reports that Kim had somewhere much more important to be.
When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang last weekend, he was supposed to have a one-on-one meeting with Kim Jong-un. But the North Korean leader never showed up during Pompeo’s three-day visit.
Kim was visiting a potato farm.
Granted, considering the level of hunger in North Korea, a potato farm is a fairly important place. And since Kim recently had the head of a turtle farm executed for allowing a tank of baby turtles to die, such a visit isn’t without its peril. The manager of that potato farm was probably out there planting a fresh bag of Ore-Idas the night before the visit for Kim to uncover, and hoping desperately that the great, beloved, super-keen leader wasn’t expecting to find the farm studded with French fry trees.
And it wasn’t just a potato farm. There was also corn. So … doubly important. Much more important than trying to help Mike Pompeo out of the hole that he and Trump so gleefully dug.
Kim Jong Un continues to be a brutal autocrat whose hold on power came through killing everyone—everyone—who might have the slightest claim on the top chair, or any ambition to advance, or a tank of turtles they couldn’t keep alive without electricity to run the water pumps. But he’s now in a position where Donald Trump is running around the world, saying good things about Kim, because Trump has hitched his own little tinfoil star to the idea that his “personal relationship” with anyone can save the day. Kim could spend his days eating live kittens on North Korean state TV, and Trump would still be out there talking about what a great guy he is. Because that’s the position that Trump built for himself.
Now … on to Helsinki! Because while Trump may have been forced to hand over everything for nothing by a leader as experienced and wily as Kim Jong Un, he can surely handle a lightweight like Vladimir Putin.