Donald Trump boasted that North Korean premier Kim Jong-un “tells me everything” and even gave the president a “graphic account” of how he had his own uncle assassinated, a new book by journalist Bob Woodward has revealed.
Excerpts from Mr Woodward’s book ‘Rage’ were released, based on 18 interviews the associate editor at The Washington Post conducted with Mr Trump between December and July.
Mr Kim ordered the execution of his uncle and senior government official Jang Song Thaek in 2013, reportedly for suspected disloyalty to the current regime.
The president dismissed intelligence officials’ assessments that the reclusive country would never give up its nuclear weapons when he decided to engage with the North Korean leader in nuclear arms talks.
He told Mr Woodward that the CIA has “no idea” how to handle Pyongyang and also dismissed criticism about his three meetings with Mr Kim, cleaning the summits were no big deal.
“It takes me two days. I met. I gave up nothing,” he said, likening North Korea’s attachment to its nuclear arsenal to somebody who is in love with a house and “they just can’t sell it”.
Mr Woodward also gained access to 25 letters exchanged between Mr Trump and Mr Kim, which were described by the president as “love letters”.
According to CNN, which reported it obtained transcripts of two of the letters, Mr Kim addresses Mr Trump as “Your Excellency” and is liberal in his use of flowery language when describing his relationship with the president.
Following their first meeting in Singapore, Mr Kim wrote: “Even now I cannot forget that moment of history when I firmly held Your Excellency’s hand at the beautiful and sacred location as the whole world watched with great interest and hope to relive the honour of that day.”
The two leaders met a total of three times, in Singapore, Vietnam and the Demilitarised Zone dividing North and South Korea, marking one of the Trump administration’s most notable foreign policy legacies.
The meetings took place following an escalation in provocation by North Korea with its missile tests in 2017 and Mr Trump responding by taunting Mr Kim as a “Little Rocket Man” on Twitter. In a now-famous tweet, Mr Trump threatened to respond to Pyongyang with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
Mr Trump told Mr Woodward in December 2019 that his decision to meet with Mr Kim averted the war, and America “would’ve been in a major war” if he was not the president.
But then-defence Secretary James Mattis called Mr Trump’s initial taunting of Mr Kim “unproductive, childish and dangerous”, wrote Mr Woodward.