In a series of letters reportedly obtained by Bob Woodward for his new book, Rage, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un called President Donald Trump “Your Excellency” and said their relationship was like a scene from a fantasy film.
The Washington Post and CNN published details from more than two dozen letters the leaders sent after the 2018 summit in Singapore, the first time a sitting U.S. president had met with a leader of the North. The missives add new context to the cordial relationship between Trump and Kim and feature deep flattery towards the president.
“I feel pleased to have formed good ties with such a powerful and preeminent statesman as Your Excellency,” Kim wrote in one letter, per the Post. In another, the North Korean leader said he was thinking of “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 honor of that day.”
Trump did not share the letters with Woodward, who told the Post he obtained them independently. CNN acquired transcripts of two letters, sent in December 2018 and June 2019. However, Trump hinted at the content of the letters in late 2018, saying the pair “fell in love” after Kim wrote him “beautiful letters.”
The diplomatic relationship was a swift change from the early days of the Trump presidency. Then, the leaders swapped increasingly acidic names, with Trump calling Kim “Little Rocket Man” and Kim describing Trump as a “dotard.”
In an interview with Woodward, Trump described his later chemistry with Kim, saying it was near-immediate.
“You meet a woman. In one second, you know whether or not it’s going to happen,” Trump told Woodward of his relationship with Kim, per The New York Times. “It doesn’t take you 10 minutes and it doesn’t take you six weeks. It’s like, whoa. OK. You know? It takes somewhat less than a second.”
The Trump administration’s relationship with North Korea has soured over the last year and Kim announced in December that he would no longer be constrained by the moratorium on nuclear or long-range ballistic missile testing.
Trump defended his three meetings with Kim to Woodward after many foreign policy experts warned that the U.S. had received few concessions following the summits while North Korea won deeply craved international legitimacy.
“I met. Big fucking deal,” Trump told Woodward, The Washington Post reported. “It takes me two days. I met. I gave up nothing.”
Trump also said his efforts to convince Kim to give up the North’s controversial nuclear weapons program were like convincing “somebody that’s in love with a house” to give it up.
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