North Koreans woke up to photos of their leader shaking hands with an American president

A meeting of equals.
A meeting of equals.
Image: Reuters/KCNA
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North Korea typically has no kind words for Donald Trump. In the past, state media has referred to him as a “psychopath” and a “lunatic,” while Kim Jong Un has called him a “dotard.

As such, North Koreans might have been surprised to see their country’s newspapers filled with photos depicting Trump and Kim as equals today (June 13), following the two leaders’ meeting in Singapore yesterday (June 12).

The first two pages of of Rodong Sinmun, a paper published by the Worker’s Party of Korea, show the two leaders shaking hands and sitting next to one another. They also depict Kim greeting national security advisor John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

In a lengthy piece, state mouthpiece KCNA signaled that the meeting would bring about a change in relations between the US and North Korea. It called the summit “epoch-making” and “a great event of weighty significance” that could lead to a “radical switchover.” There are even some kind words for Trump himself. “Chairman Kim Jong Un highly praised the president’s will and enthusiasm to resolve matters in a realistic way through dialogue and negotiations, away from the hostility-woven past,” the piece reads.

The article also comes with a few surprises. It states that Trump will lift sanctions against North Korea “with advance in improving the mutual relationship through dialogue and negotiation.” During his press conference after the summit, Trump told reporters that he would lift sanctions against North Korea only when the US “is sure the nukes are no longer a factor.

The article also states that Trump accepted Kim’s invitation to visit Pyongyang, while Kim accepted an invitation from Trump to visit the US. Trump made no mention of this during his press briefing.

There was also no mention in the North Korean coverage of the missile-engine testing site which Trump said he persuaded Kim to agree to shut down.

Anti-US sentiment has historically been central to North Korea’s propaganda and public messaging. It’s possible that, despite widespread skepticism, North Korea is sincere about denuclearizing and restoring its relationship with the US. But the coverage may also be a sign that North Korea, after its moment in the international limelight with a sitting US leader, now feels emboldened enough to dictate the terms of that relationship itself.