Whilst they’ve only met twice face-to-face, DPRK Chairman Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump have become the closest of pen pals in an age where business is otherwise dominated by email and public relations have become consigned to Twitter. The almost rustic nature of the letters exchanged between the unlikely but nevertheless close friends has been characterised by Trump as tantamount to the authoring of “love letters”.
Now, DPRK media has commented on the most recent letter that Trump has sent to Kim in a highly positive manner. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pyongyang:
“Kim Jong Un , Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the DPRK, received a personal letter from Donald Trump, President of the United States of America.
After reading the letter, the Supreme Leader of the Party, the state and the armed forces said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content.
Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong Un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content”.
The letter which was reportedly delivered to Pyongyang prior to Xi Jinping’s highly successful visit is self-evidently symptomatic of a US leader who has stated on multiple occasions that he believes that the Korean peace process will be a complete success and that under Kim Jong-un’s leadership, the DPRK has a bright future of economic openness, reform and material success.
For the DPRK’s part, whilst official media has often been highly critical of Trump aides including Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, the DPRK has been equally if not more critical of Trump’s domestic opposition including Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. What’s more is that in castigating Trump’s domestic opponents ranging from those in the Democratic party to the New York Times and CNN, the DPRK has employed language that is remarkably similar to that used by Trump.
This itself is symptomatic and indeed emblematic of a DPRK that is highly attuned to Donald Trump’s personal characteristics. It is quite clear that this itself is a material outgrowth of the personal understanding that Kim and Trump have rapidly developed and nurtured since 2018. Unlike many world leaders, the DPRK leadership clearly understands that for Trump the personal is a prelude to the professional. In other words, one must build a level of trust only possible after one has secured a high level of personal understanding in order to them move onto deal making when working with Donald Trump.
While many world leaders in countries that nominally have a far closer relationship to the United States than does the erstwhile isolated DPRK would be grateful to have such a close and productive personal relationship with Donald Trump as does Kim Jong-un, there is another group of people who will be clearly flummoxed by the continued friendship between Trump and Kim. John Bolton and the Washington war party he represents have long been desirous for the Korean peace process to collapse. As Bolton appeared multiple times on Fox News stating that he felt that peace with Korean is impossible and that if there was to be a peace process, it would have to be humiliating and degrading for the DPRK – it goes without saying that Bolton is displeased with Trump’s pro-peace and penultimately pro-business approach to the DPRK.
As it was reported that Bolton’s personal demands at this year’s Hanoi summit were largely responsible for the summit’s abrupt ending, it becomes that much clearer that Washington’s most infamous warmonger does not share Donald Trump’s placid vision for a Korea entering a new era.
More recently it was reported that Donald Trump personally snubbed Bolton and his team in what would have been a run-up to an attack on Iran. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump told a confidant the following about Bolton and his staff:
“These people want to push us into a war, and it’s so disgusting. We don’t need any more wars”.
Donald Trump’s friendship with Kim Jong-un and his actions which helped to avert a war on Iran make it clear that whatever one might think of Trump’s personality, at his core, he wants to do deals rather than make wars.