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The Countenance of Kim Jong-un

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, June 30, 2019 (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

“Why is this man smiling?” It is an old line, used in newspapers and magazines — in headlines and photo captions. I thought of it when thinking about Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, and our President Trump.

“You have a man that was so happy to see me,” said Trump of Kim last month. “You have a man that doesn’t smile a lot, but when he saw me, he smiled, he was happy.” More recently, Trump said, “People say he only smiles when he sees me.”

And why is that? Any realist, with the American interest at heart, should be wary.

Tweeting over the weekend, Trump said the following: “In a letter to me sent by Kim Jong Un, he stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over. It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises.”

Are these exercises in fact ridiculous, as well as expensive? What is the importance, or lack thereof, of the alliance between the United States and South Korea? I believe that members of Congress ought to have a robust debate over this. It would be good to hear from the Republicans in particular: Do they agree with the president?

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