North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is said to be anxious about his summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore in June 2018.
Citing sources familiar with the preparations, The Washington Post reported May 22, 2018, that Kim was less concerned about meeting Trump than he was about what might happen at home in Pyongyang while he’s gone.
Kim is apparently concerned that the trip to Singapore may leave his government vulnerable to a military coup or that other hostile actors might try to depose him, sources told The Post. The Kim dynasty has ruled North Korea since the country’s inception following the armistice in 1953.
Rumors of a simmering military revolt in North Korea are precisely the kind of thing that emboldened Kim to keep a tight grip on power over the years, according to some experts.
“The notion that Kim is secure in his power is fundamentally wrong,” Victor Cha, a director for Asian affairs for the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration, wrote in a 2014 opinion column.
“Dictators may exercise extreme and draconian power like Kim, but they are also pathologically insecure about their grip on the throne,” Cha said. “All of the public speculation about coups or interim leaders would feed the paranoid impulse of a dictator to correct that perception as quickly as possible, even if it were misplaced.”
Trump has also expressed some trepidation about the summit after North Korea changed its tone in recent days. North Korea started to raise its voice again after US and South Korean forces conducted routine joint military exercises, and the country took a comment from the US national security adviser, John Bolton, as a potential threat.
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)
Trump weighed in on May 22, 2018, saying there was a “very substantial chance” the planned summit with Kim “won’t work out.”
He added: “That doesn’t mean that it won’t work out over a period of time, but it may not work out for June 12.”
Despite apparent doubts on both sides, South Korean President Moon Jae-in remained optimistic during a press conference at the White House.
“Thanks to your vision of achieving peace through strength, as well as your strong leadership, we’re looking forward to the first-ever US-North Korea summit,” Moon said in an opening statement directed at Trump.
“And we find ourselves standing one step closer to the dream of achieving complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and world peace.”
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