South Korea’s tactic for manipulating Trump: Flatter the hell out of him

Moon laughs at all Trump’s jokes.
Moon laughs at all Trump’s jokes.
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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World leaders have tried a wide array of tactics to get on president Donald Trump’s good side. France’s Emmanuel Macron showed him weapons and gives him lots of cuddles. Britain’s Theresa May is dangling the chance of a meeting with the Queen. Japan’s Shinzo Abe gives Trump a guilt-free round of golf whenever they catch up.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in keeps it simple: Flatter the hell out of the reality TV star.

Moon set standards high last month, declaring that Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize for agreeing to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. In a White House visit today (May 22), Moon kept up the act with an excruciating level of public self-debasement.

“All of this was possible because of you, Mr. President,” he said, reflecting on ongoing peace efforts on the Korean peninsula. “I have no doubt that you will be able to complete and accomplish an historic feat that no one has been able to achieve in the decades past.”

He wasn’t done there.

“There have been many agreements between the United States and North Korea previously, but this will be the first time that there will be an agreement between the leaders. And moreover, the person who is in charge is President Trump,” he continued. “President Trump has been able to achieve this dramatic and positive change that you see right now. And I have every confidence that President Trump will be able to achieve an historic feat.”

Moon continued with a lengthy list of things he had “every confidence” in Trump achieving:

  • A successful summit
  • An end to the 65-year Korean war
  • A denuclearized North Korea
  • Peace on the Korean peninsula
  • Normalized US-North Korean relations

The tactic does seem to be working for Moon, says Koreas expert Robert E Kelly. Kelly explains that Trump’s threats of war with North Korea last year “scared the daylights out of South Koreans,” who became desperate to push him into peace negotiations. Trump has certainly come a long way toward peace since then.