Let’s Catch Up On North Korea…

The moment Kim Jong-un set foot in South Korea for the first time. Just seconds later he invited South Korean President Moon to step into North Korea momentarily.


Kim Says He’ll Shut Down Nuclear Bomb Facility In May, And Not Just The Part That’s Already Reportedly Collapsed



And this morning, South Korean media reported on plans for North and South Korea to jointly set up an office in the city of Kaesong, just over the border in North Korea. At one time, this was the site of a bustling industrial complex funded by the South, in the hopes of expanding industry and economic cooperation with the North. But it’s been shuttered since 2010. If talks continue to go smoothly, negotiators say the office could be up and running by June.

This is a photo we took of the area when we visited in 2008, and it was still operational.


Kaesong, North Korea



So What’s Trump’s Next Move?


In one of the first editions of the Chaos Report, a little over a year ago, we suggested the best play for North Korea would be for Trump and Kim to pick up the phone. We said “maybe they’d even be friends”. We felt Trump reacted favorably to strongmen who came calling, and we now think Kim understands Trump perfectly. We never understood the stories which said North Korea couldn’t figure Trump out. They both speak the same language: hyperbole and bombast. We believe the entente that’s emerged comes more from a place of comfort (and economic necessity) than fear.

This weekend’s been marked by almost everybody (even “enemies” and “haters”) tripping over themselves to give Trump credit, and that’s fair. Trump’s heightened rhetoric coupled with diplomatic reassurances that the U.S. no longer really cares about human rights and would not push for regime change played a huge part. (And it’s interesting, especially as Trump’s increasingly inflammatory rhetoric toward Iran is completely centered around his calls for human rights and regime change). Several rounds of really severe economic sanctions coupled with rigorous monitoring and surprisingly little cheating might have even been more effective.

Trump is in a position now where he’s biding his time, waiting for his “Nixon in China” moment, which he wants to happen soon: May or June. At the same time we think the New York Times’ take on it this weekend is extremely odd: that Trump’s been weakened because he can’t threaten military action anymore. He doesn’t need to right now. And if the winds change, in the future, he’ll be able to. It’s not like we’re pulling U.S. troops out of South Korea or Japan (yet).

One thing we’ve noticed is that all the chatter from the Right about how Kim’s peace overture is just a ploy to buy him enough time to perfect a nuclear warhead for a missile that could reach the U.S. has dried right up. In fact, one of the leading proponents of this theory was Trump’s new National Security Adviser John Bolton, who parroted it many, many times during many, many appearances on Fox. He’s keeping mum on that now.

Since we started off today tooting our own horn, we’ll wrap up here with something that we said at the same time, that we might’ve gotten wrong: we also asserted that North Korea will never give up its nukes. And now it seems willing to (although it still hasn’t really defined what that means). Nuclear weapons seemed to us too wrapped up in the North Korean national identity and in sustaining the power of the Kim regime. Perhaps now a well-presented vision of a bright economic future might be enough inspire the fierce loyalty of the populace instead?



Our Humble Suggestion About A Location For The Trump/Kim Summit…


All kinds of places are being discussed. Trump says it’s been narrowed down from 5 locations to 2 or 3. According to most media reports we’ve read, the leading contenders are low-profile locales like Mongolia, Sweden and Singapore; hardly Trump’s style. We know this is far-fetched, but we had an idea: how about Pyeongchang, South Korea, where the Olympics were just held? Although a lot of the Olympic facilities were designed as temporary structures there’s plenty of new infrastructure still in place, and it was designed with security in mind. It’s very close to the North Korean border. Now that Kim has already set foot in South Korea, it won’t break any taboos, plus there’s already a precedent for North Koreans to visit the area in an official capacity (Kim Jong-un’s sister attended the opening ceremony). South Koreans are extremely adept at organizing protests, but Pyeonchang is remote enough and far enough from any major population center that it’d be difficult to turn people out in great numbers. It’s springtime, so it’ll be beautiful. Telecom and internet connectivity is better and faster in Korea than any country in the world. And it’ll allow Trump to return to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs to date (according to him): the Winter Olympics. During a visit last week by Olympians to the White House Trump took credit for robust ticket sales and has repeatedly taken credit for the success of the event.


Vice-President Mike Pence and Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong, at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea



There’s Always Been Speculation Trump Getting Roasted By Seth Meyers At The 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner Spurred Him To Run For President. This Should Put Any Doubt About Whether That’s True To Rest:


Here’s Trump sitting stone-faced as Meyers rips him (actually, surprisingly good-naturedly considering the subject matter) about his “birther” campaign against then-President Obama. You can watch the whole thing by clicking on the photo below (the Trump part starts about 56:10 in).