'Assassins': Did Donald Trump help legitimize Kim Jong-un's rule by siding with him against the CIA?

When Trump held a historic meeting with Kim Jong-un in 2018 after North Korea tested its nuclear weapons, it was seen as Trump legitimizing the dictator's rule in the country


                            'Assassins': Did Donald Trump help legitimize Kim Jong-un's rule by siding with him against the CIA?
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un (Getty Images)

In February 2017, Kim Jong-nam, the former favored heir to the North Korean throne, was assassinated at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, by two women who thought they were taking part in a Japanese prank show. The women -- Siti Aisyah from Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam -- had been tricked by North Korean agents who posed as Japanese TV producers into "filming" for at least a month before the assassination, before turning on Kim Jong-nam who was reportedly in Malaysia to meet with a CIA agent. The assassination is the subject of Ryan White's latest documentary, 'Assassins'.

Kim Jong-nam was not the only person reportedly ordered to be executed by Kim Jong-un, his half-brother and leader of North Korea since 2011. In order to instill loyalty among his people, Kim Jong-un would ruthlessly take his rivals out to prove his strength in the domestic setting. According to The Washington Post reporter, Anna Fifield, this was the first phase in Kim Jong-un's plan to solidify his power.

The next phase involves his friendship with US President Donald Trump. When Trump held a historic meeting with Kim Jong-un in 2018 following a diplomatic standoff after North Korea tested its nuclear weapons, it was seen as Trump legitimizing the dictator's rule in the country. For Trump, it was his first major foreign policy achievement, but for Kim Jong-un, it was much more. His ordered assassinations and tortures of defectors and opponents were now old news as Kim Jong-un began meeting with international leaders, including Moon Jae-in, the President of South Korea. 

Now, with a credible nuclear weapons program, Fifield believes that Kim Jong-un started the process to look like a respectable international statesman and that he seems very strong and confident and very much in control of the regime.

When Trump met with Kim Jong-un, it signaled the United States acknowledging North Korea's nuclear weapons status, leading to a cease in sanctions and ending criticism of North Korea's human rights abuses. Since the two leaders met, they have kept in constant communication, exchanging letters and more recently with Kim Jong-un wished Trump a speedy recovery after the latter tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

This international friendship also led to Trump siding with the North Korean dictator against his own people. In 2019, Trump took a public stance against the use of CIA informants to spy on Kim Jong-un, saying that it would not happen on his watch. His remarks came a day after it was reported that Kim Jong-nam was an informant for the CIA and had been exchanging information on Kim Jong-un. Trump said during a press conference, "I saw the information about the CIA, with respect to his brother, or half-brother. And I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices," further solidifying Kim Jong-un's standing within his country, as well as internationally.

'Assassins' will in release theaters and on virtual cinema on December 11, 2020.

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