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No Longer a ‘Dotard,’ Trump Wins Praise in North Korea

Sofia Lotto Persio

If there are two things that President Donald Trump accomplished by meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday, they are shedding his image as the "dotard" in the country's state-controlled media and winning praise for his "will and enthusiasm."

The front cover of the Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the country's ruling Workers' Party of Korea, prominently featured more than 30 pictures of Kim and Trump's summit, from the handshake to the working lunch to the signing of the document. The summit's outcome was also reported in the state television's daily broadcast courtesy of Ri Chun Hee, the so-called "lady in pink" news anchor usually tasked with reporting on missile and nuclear tests. 

The reports highlighted the magnitude of the historic moment of a sitting U.S. president meeting with a North Korean leader, described as a "first step toward reconciliation" and a "new starting point" in their relationship.

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Less than a year ago, Kim dug out the fairly archaic term "dotard"—meaning "a state or period of senile decay"— to respond in style to Trump's threat of "totally destroying" North Korea during the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. The North Korean ruler was now quoted as saying he "highly praised the president's will and enthusiasm to resolve matters in a realistic way through dialogue and negotiations, away from the hostility-woven past." Kim also promised the world "would witness an important change."

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North Koreans read local newspapers reporting on the U.S.–North Korea summit on display at a subway station in Pyongyang, North Korea, on June 13. State-controlled media reported on the historic summit deepening the two leaders’ “friendly feelings.” Kyodo/via Reuters

As for the outcome of the summit, the North Korean media emphasized Trump's acceptance of Kim's request to halt "irritating" military exercises on the Korean Peninsula for as long as the two countries are engaged in talks, as well as a commitment to lift sanctions as relations improve.

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"Trump expressed his intention to halt the U.S.–South Korean joint military exercises, which the DPRK side regards as provocation, over a period of goodwill dialogue between the DPRK and the U.S., offer security guarantees to the DPRK and lift sanctions against it along with advance in improving the mutual relationship through dialogue and negotiation," the North Korean report read, referring to the country by the acronym for its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The state media reports portray Kim as a peace-loving but pragmatic leader who intends to "take practical measures actively to carry out the issues discussed at the talks and the joint statement at an early date" and "take legal and institutional steps to guarantee" denuclearization, peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. He is also described as immediately agreeing to Trump's request to repatriate the remains of U.S. and foreign soldiers who were taken as prisoners of war or were missing in action following the 1950 to 1953 Korean War—a request that, according to Trump, was included toward the end of the talks.

Absent from the North Korean reports is the commitment to destroy what Trump described as a "major missile engine test site"—one that did not make it in the official document because, according to the president, "there wasn't enough time." That may be on the table for their next meeting—as the North Korean media reported, the two leaders "gladly accepted" each other's invitation to their respective countries. Trump said at a press conference on Tuesday he would invite Kim to the White House "at the appropriate time."

This article was first written by Newsweek

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