Trump called them “love letters,” and Woodward wrote that they showed “diplomatic flirtation” that carried Trump from mocking Kim as a “little rocket man” and threatening “with fire and anger” until he becomes the first US president in office to meet the North Korean leader. Woodward writes that the unusual letters are full of “personal declarations of loyalty that the Knights of the Round Table might utter, or perhaps the suitors”.
In his letters to Trump, Kim addressed him with “your happiness” interspersed with flowery prose.
Kim wrote to Trump on December 25, “Even now I cannot forget that historic moment when I firmly held the hand of your happiness at the beautiful and sacred site where the whole world watched with great interest and I hope he regains the honor of that day.” 2018, after their first meeting in Singapore.
Kim added that another encounter “between me and your happiness” will remind us of a scene from a fictional movie.
Trump’s responses were more visible but nonetheless flattering.
Trump wrote to Kim on December 28, “Like you, I have no doubt that a great outcome will be achieved between our two countries, and the only two leaders who can do so are you and me.”
A moment of glory
After the second leaders’ meeting, Kim wrote in June 2019 that “every minute we shared 103 days ago in Hanoi was also a moment of glory that is still a precious memory.”
“I also believe that the deep and special friendship between us will act as a magic power,” Kim added.
In a letter he sent to Kim in June 2019, before Trump suggested on Twitter that he meet leaders in the demilitarized zone, Trump wrote that “you and I have a unique style and special friendship.”
“Only you and I, working together, can we solve the problems between our two countries, end nearly 70 years of hostility, and bring an era of prosperity to the Korean Peninsula that will exceed all our expectations – and you will be the one who will lead Trump’s books.” It will be historic! “
“I really, really upset”
After the DMZ meeting, Trump wrote to Kim on June 30, “It was really cool to be with you today,” and attached a copy of the front page of the New York Times from that day. Two days later, Trump wrote back, sending 22 photos to meet them.
Trump wrote: “These photos are wonderful memories to me and capture the unique friendship that you and I have developed.”
Kim responded a month later, but this time in a new tone, which Woodward described as “a frustrated friend or lover”. Kim was annoyed that the military exercises between the United States and South Korea had not stopped completely.
Kim wrote, “Obviously I’m offended and don’t want to hide that feeling from you. I’m really very upset.” “Your Excellency, I am extremely proud and honored to have a relationship where I can send and receive such candid thoughts with you.”
He was completely ready to go
Mattis once told Trump, according to Woodward: “I went beyond the enjoyment of public humiliation in the second row.”
In his interviews with Woodward, Trump said that his decision to meet Kim had averted war.
“He was completely ready to go. He was expecting to leave, but we met,” Trump told Woodward on December 13, 2019.
In a subsequent interview on December 30th, Trump told Woodward: “If I hadn’t been president, we would have – maybe it would have ended now, and maybe not be – we’d be in a major war.”
Trump argued that he “gave nothing back” by meeting with Kim, even though North Korea did not follow the denuclearization steps the United States had been pursuing. Trump’s critics say the meetings provided Kim with legitimacy on the world stage he so desperately sought without curtailing Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
“Let’s go to a movie together.”
Woodward’s book includes a color standout from Trump’s meetings with Kim. At the second summit in February 2019, Trump said he knew Kim was not ready to cut a deal, and the two leaders argued over the nuclear sites that would dismantle Pyongyang.
According to Woodward, Trump says, “I know every site. I know them all, better than any people I know. You understand that.” But when Kim did not budge, Trump tried another approach.
“Have you ever done anything but launched rockets into the air?” Trump asked Kim. “Let’s go to a movie together. Let’s play a round of golf.”
After Woodward got Kim’s messages, Trump warned him in a January 2020 phone call: “You can’t make fun of Kim. I don’t want to go into nuclear war because you made fun of him.”
The CIA never specified who wrote and penned Kim’s letters to Trump, but Woodward wrote that the agency considered them “masterpieces.”
Analysts were stunned by the skill that someone brought to find the subtle mix of flattery while appealing to Trump’s sense of grandeur and being center stage in history.
CNN’s Elizabeth Stewart contributed to this report.
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