Kim Jong-Un -- What You Need To Know
Trump said Kim was a "very talented man" with a "great personality".
If you listened to U.S. President Donald Trump, you could be forgiven for almost thinking North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was a kind of alright guy.
"We understand each other," Trump said following the highly-anticipated summit between the two leaders this week in Singapore, to discuss the denuclearisation of the hermit kingdom and rogue state.
"He’s a tough guy... he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator.”
Trump has been praised for showing his rarely-seen mostly diplomatic and solemn side through the summit, and getting Kim to recommit to denuclearisation under American supervision.
However, the president has come under fire for his startlingly positive comments about the young North Korean leader who leads an impoverished nation that harshly punishes defectors and presides over a network of brutal labour camps where prisoners -- political or otherwise -- are worked literally to death.
Trump praised Kim as being "one in 10,000" when discussing how he took leadership of the country from his father, Kim Jong-il, and said he was a "very talented man" with a "great personality". Trump also downplayed questions from Fox News about the human rights situation in North Korea, saying:
a lot of other people have done some really bad things... I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done
So who is this "tough", "smart" guy? If you listened to Trump, you could almost forget that North Korea's prison camps were slammed in a U.S. State Department report just 10 months ago as employing "slave labour", with "induced starvation" so common that prisoners "are driven to catch and eat rodents, frogs, and snakes." Forced abortions, very dangerous working conditions, extreme punishments, torture and executions are common; reports from some camps liken prisoners to "walking skeletons, dwarfs, and cripples in rags."
Trump, when asked in another interview after the summit, again downplayed conditions in the country.
"We will be doing something on it... It's rough. It's rough in a lot of places, by the way," he said.
Human Rights Watch, in its 2018 report, called North Korea "one of the most repressive authoritarian states in the world". A United Nations report on human rights found the government committed crimes against humanity, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, sexual violence, and forced abortion.
North Korean state media reported images of Trump saluting one of the country's military generals. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders put it down to "common courtesy."
More personally, Kim has been seen as responsible for a series of murders and purges of military personnel, politicians, elites and even his half-brother Kim Jong-nam. An elder sibling to Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-nam was exiled from North Korea in 2003, and several attempts on his life were made in the following years, with South Korean media reporting that Jong-un had called for his brother to be killed. In 2017, Kim Jong-nam was killed after being attacked by two women -- said to be North Korean agents -- and coming into contact with the VX nerve agent.
So think about this before you take Trump's word that Kim Jong-un is "a very talented man" with a "great personality".