President Donald Trump promised Tuesday to “guarantee” the safety of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the event that talks between the two heads of state are fruitful, suggesting that a Kim open to negotiating with America “will be safe, he will be happy, his country will be rich, his country will be hard-working and prosperous.”
Trump and Kim are currently scheduled to meet in Singapore on June 12 to discuss the denuclearization of the North Korean peninsula. While the term means an end to North Korea’s nuclear program for the United States, many experts suggest North Korea is seeking the removal of American military assets from Asia.
During a press conference with leftist South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington on Tuesday, Trump suggested that the scheduled June 12 summit with Kim “may not work out.” He expressed hope, however, that it will.
“North Korea has a chance to be a great country. It can’t be a great country under the circumstances they’re living in right now,” Trump said, without elaborating on those circumstances. “I think they should seize the opportunity, and we’ll soon find out whether or not they want to do that.”
Trump went on to say that, if Kim comes to an agreement with Trump, “I will guarantee his safety, yes. He will be safe, he will be happy, his country will be rich, his country will be hard-working and prosperous.”
Kim, he suggested, “will be able to look back and be very proud of what he did for North Korea and, actually, for the world.”
Trump has previously referred to Kim as “very honorable.”
Kim Jong-un is the third man of his family to preside over the repressive communist dictatorship of North Korea, founded by “Eternal President” Kim Il-sung, his grandfather, who outranks the younger Kim from beyond the gave.
Kim Jong-un is personally responsible for continuing – and, in some cases, worsening – North Korea’s policy of using brutal state repression to force the nation’s people to worship him and his bloodline.
North Koreans, according to defectors who have told their stories, are taught from a very young age to worship the Kim family, and particularly Kim Il-sung, the “father” of the Korean nation. North Korean children are taught that Kim Il-sung descended from heaven in 1912 (Juche year 1) and that his son, Kim Jong-il was born on the peak of sacred Mount Paektu and greeted with the presence of a star that illuminated the sky, echoing the story of Christmas. North Korea bans all outside media – including television, film, and written materials – and forces every citizen to watch only government-produced programming and read government-produced material promoting the worship of the Kim family.
Those who object are sent to political “re-education” camps, where they are forced to work hard labor and endure rape, torture, and starvation. Women, according to a U.S. State Department report issued last year and citing escaped witnesses, are forced to endure rape regularly and, as a result of the rape, forced abortions and infanticide. Some witnesses who survived North Korean labor camps have said they witnessed infants being fed to dogs following their birth.
“Economic activities that employ prisoners as slave labor include mining, textiles, farming, and raising livestock. Induced starvation is common among prisoners, who are driven to catch and eat rodents, frogs, and snakes,” the State Department reported added.
Crimes that can lead an individual to a sentence at a “re-education camp” include possession of a foreign film or television program, possession of a Bible, having a physical or mental disability that undermines the racial superiority narrative of the regime, or being related to someone the regime has accused of any of these crimes. Christians often suffer some of the worst punishments: “being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot,” according to a report by the NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
To remind North Koreans to toe the religious line of the state and worship the Kims, state television often broadcasts the public executions of those who fun afoul of Pyongyang.
Last week, North Korean state media proclaimed that North Korea is setting an example for the world to follow on human rights. “But, in socialist Korea, a good example in guaranteeing the genuine civilization and human rights is being set today when the rights of human being remain serious,” the Korean Central News Agency proclaimed. “The politics of love and trust taking care of the people’s destiny in a responsible manner to the last have been enforced at a higher level century after century under the wise guidance of the [Workers’ Party of Korea] WPK.”
Trump has not challenged this claim, nor have any representatives of the United States government before Kim or the North Korean regime publically brought up its ongoing human rights abuses as a condition to dialogue with the United States.
The Trump administration has not made any indication the president will discuss human rights with Kim if the June 12 meeting occurs.