This morning (June 12) in Singapore, for the first time ever, a sitting US president met with a leader of North Korea. Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un shook hands while standing before cameras at the Capella resort on Sentosa island, with the flags of their nations behind them.
They also sat down and briefly spoke to the media, during which Trump gave a thumbs-up to Kim. It was an impulsive gesture made in response to a comment Kim made. “It has not been easy to get here,” Kim said of the historic meeting. “The old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles, but we have overcome them and we are here today.”
Trump’s thumbs-up response would seem fair enough—except, of course, he’s the president of the United States, which Kim has threatened with nuclear weapons, and Kim is the ruthless dictator of a country where the slightest political offense can lead to imprisonment, torture, or death for entire extended families.
Robert Kelly, a political science professor at Pusan National University in South Korea, told Quartz he would be relieved if Trump “doesn’t laugh it up, buddy up, or smile too much on camera with an Orwellian gangster who is the world’s worst human-rights abuser.”
Trump, known to have little self-control, did a decent job of not smiling too much as the two men stood shaking hands before cameras. But he couldn’t resist the thumbs-up gesture. Here’s the moment: