For North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, there is much at stake at. This is by far the farthest Kim has ever traveled since taking control of North Korea in 2011, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy. That’s a sign he’s confident about his grip on power back home. But making a deal here in Singapore is still a big risk.
North Korean state media triumphantly announced Kim’s trip to Singapore on Sunday, calling it an historic foreign tour and showing pictures of the young leader waving as he left Pyongyang. He flew on an Air China 747, a not-so-subtle reminder of who is North Korea’s strongest ally and trading partner.
In Singapore, about a dozen bodyguards jogged alongside his motorcade on its way to the St. Regis Hotel. Kim met Singapore’s prime minister in yet another moment making him look less like a pariah and more like a politician.
But is he actually willing to give up his nuclear weapons and bring stability to a region where North Korea has long been a threat?
“This is risky. What Kim Jong Un is doing is without precedent,” said John Delury, an expert on Korean affairs at Yonsei University in Seoul.
“The North Korean system is predicated on hostility… and what Kim Jong Un is doing is going way out of that comfort zone and he’s saying we can reconcile. We can reconcile with our ultimate enemy, the United States,” Delury said.
Many North Koreans live in poverty and suffer from food shortages. Kim has promised to transform his country’s economy and is looking for foreign investment to even make it a tourist destination. All of that is nearly impossible under strict international sanctions, which is why the North Korean leader needs more than just a photo-op with the president of the U.S.
“He’s got to show that he’s a world statesman. He’s got to be able to message that back to North Korea to say this was a win for us as a country, as a regime,” Delury said.
Kim may want relief from the current international sanctions but that’s unlikely to happen as a result of Tuesday’s summit. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will maintain economic pressure until there is verifiable proof that North Korea is getting rid of its nuclear weapons.
Source: CBS News
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