Trump bet on Kim Jong Un. Now he’s disappeared

Trump bet on Kim Jong Un. Now he’s disappeared

Politico reports:

North Korea’s dictator has vanished from sight, and in doing so, he’s exposed a potentially major weakness of President Donald Trump’s negotiating tactics.

Trump made a bold bet: that by breaking precedent and engaging directly with Kim Jong Un, he could convince the brutal young autocrat to give up his nuclear arsenal in exchange for future economic gains.

But the approach, which has included three face-to-face meetings, has resulted in no such breakthrough while arguably disempowering top aides to Trump as well as U.S. diplomats. Some U.S. officials have found it hard to even get in touch with their North Korean counterparts; in some prominent cases, they’ve been publicly scorned. Trump’s game plan also essentially sidelined U.S. allies in Asia, as well as U.S. rival China, all of whom have a great deal at stake in Pyongyang’s future.

Now, amid rumors that Kim is sick or even dead, current and former U.S. officials and North Korea analysts say Trump’s mano-a-mano diplomacy looks shakier than ever because the Trump-Kim relationship has been the only one that truly mattered. [Continue reading…]

Anna Fifield writes:

If Kim turns out to be fine, it would hardly be the first time that reports of the death of a North Korean leader had been greatly exaggerated. Japanese and South Korean newspapers killed off his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, and his father, Kim Jong Il, multiple times in the years before either man actually died.

Kim Jong Un’s premature demise was also reported in 2014, when his disappearance from public view for six weeks sparked talk of death by military coup, heart attack or excessive cheese consumption.

Having published a biography of Kim, I’ve been bombarded with questions over the past week about whether the whispers are true.

I’m always very cautious with these kinds of rumors, given the number of times they’ve turned out to be wrong. The short answer right now is: I don’t know. [Continue reading…]

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