PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Temple University foreign policy expert wonders whether President Trump’s “fire and fury” line ultimately weighed on his counterpart in North Korea.
Associate professor John Masker recalls, only a few months ago, President Trump belittled North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, calling him “little Rocket Man,” and Mr. Kim retaliated in kind.
“Mr. Kim was calling the President a dotard, which caused a lot of people to go to their dictionaries,” said Masker.
The putdown basically questioned Mr. Trump mental faculties. So why the unprecedented encounter between the two leaders after only recently threatening to wipe each other out?
“It could be that Kim actually thinks that Trump is going to follow through on the threats,” Masker said.
No sitting American president has ever met with a North Korean leader. While Mr. Trump has made his reputation on making deals, Masker says Mr. Kim can do likewise under the North’s totalitarian system.
Masker says denuclearization is undoubtedly the biggest issue that the meeting will hope to address.
“The problem is verification. How can you be certain that they’ve frozen their program or, indeed, stopped it completely.?” he said.
He points out the president has also said there would be no prospect of lifting sanctions until a deal was reached.
Meanwhile, some members of the local Korean community are cautiously optimistic about the future of the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea after news of an announced meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un in coming months.
While any talks between the two sides are seen as a good sign, many people are still unsure of what exactly will be accomplished as both President Trump and Kim Jong Un are not afraid to speak whatever is on their mind.
“It’s going to be very funny, you know, like entertaining at the same time,” said David Kim, who runs Gil Computer in Elkins Park. “It’s good to watch the news. You know what these two people are going to do in the future.”
He has family that still lives in South Korea, and while there’s always a worry about what their neighbors to the north may do, he says the threats from North Korea are kind of like your neighbor’s dog that just won’t stop barking.
“It’s been going on for what, the last 50 years like this. So I think people in South Korea are more kind of immune to all of the noise,” Kim said.
Kim says he is excited to see where things go from here, but he won’t be surprised if things pretty much stay the same.
KYW’s Steve Tawa and Dan Wing contributed to this story.