In September of 2017, the DPRK’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho addressed the United Nations General Assembly days after Donald Trump referred to the country’s leader Kim Jong-un as “rocket man” before threatening to “destroy” the DPRK. In response to Trump’s remarks Ri stated the following before the General Assembly:
“Since Trump uttered such reckless and violent words provoking the supreme dignity of
the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) at this very platform, I think it is fair enough for me to make a response in the corresponding tone.
During his 8 months in power, he has turned the White House into a noisy marketing place full of crackling sounds of abacus beads and now he has tried to turn the UN arena into a gangsters’ nest where money is respected and bloodshed is the order of the day.
The absurd reality that the person like Trump, a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency, the person who is chastised even by American people as “Commander in Grief, “Lyin King”, “President Evil” is holding the seat of the U.S. President, and the dangerous reality that the gambler who grew old using threats, frauds and all other schemes to acquire a patch of land holds the nuclear button; these are what constitute the gravest threat to the international peace and security today.
Due to his lacking of basic common knowledge and proper sentiment, he tried to insult the supreme dignity of my country by likening it to a rocket. By doing so, however, he committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more”.
Since then, relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been utterly transformed. While some US officials continue to decry the allegedly slow progress of the DPRK’s de-nuclearisation, Donald Trump has regularly reiterated that he maintains a strong personal relationship with Kim Jong-un, while the DPRK’s media have cleverly blamed Donald Trump’s domestic opposition for trying to sabotage the peace process while continuing to speak respectfully about the US President.
Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims “unwavering faith in President Trump.” Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2018
Against this backdrop and with Pyongyang recently stating that it will be willing to sign a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War/Fatherland Liberation War, seemingly without preconditions, it would be prudent of the DPRK leadership to foster a further atmosphere of good will towards the wider world including towards its Chinese and Russian partners. In this respect, Kim Jong-un can and should speak for his nation at the opening of this year’s plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Apart from the optics of a pro-peace Kim replacing the necessarily defensive sentiments of his Foreign Minister made during last year’s General Assembly opening, such an event would also constitute Kim’s furthest journey overseas since assuming the leadership of the DPRK. Here, Kim could outline his country’s vision for the future for all nations to see and in so doing attract ever more partners towards a Korean peace process that will rapidly turn into an economic process of revitalising a more harmonised Korean commercial space in the near future.
Furthermore, while Trump has previously suggested that he would like Kim to visit the United States, the political atmosphere in Washington makes such a visit almost impossible to arrange under the current conditions. That being said, at the New York based UN, Trump and Kim could speak to one another on what is technically international soil but which nevertheless is located within America’s largest city. As Iranian authorities reported that Donald Trump sought a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani at least year’s General Assembly opening, it is clear that the US President would be all too happy to combine a speech at the UN with important meetings with fellow world leaders.
Of course, some will suggest that it is not physically safe for Kim Jong-un to travel to the United States. However realistic such theories may seem, the reality of such a situation is very different. Should any harm fall upon Kim while in New York, not only would the peace process be over but a new era of extreme hostility would transpire due to the importance of Kim, his father and his grandfather to the Korean people. Furthermore, since such a would-be assassination would obviously expose the US as the culprit, even the most hawkish members of the US intelligence community would not dare stage such a vile provocation.
There would be little to lose from the DPRK’s perspective should Kim represent his nation at the UN and in so doing, introduce himself to the wider world before an audience of hundreds of foreign ministers as well as heads of state and government. The fact that such a visit would almost certainly entail some sort of private conversation with Donald Trump – possibly alongside South Korean officials means that a hypothetical Kim Jong-un visit to the UN would likely accelerate the peace process from the perspective of the US while the international good will that such a visit could build would pay substantial dividends to Pyongyang in an inevitable post-sanctions world.