In 2018, President Trump and Kim Jong-un were all about soothing years-long tensions between their respective countries. They shook hands in a historic summit. Kim met the commander-in-chief halfway on a major agreement. Oh, and Trump even treated Kim to a movie trailer that basically showed them as besties. But in a speech on Tuesday, Jan. 1, Kim took another turn, signaling that things aren't moving forward as fast as Trump might hope. So what does Kim Jong-un's speech mean for Donald Trump, you ask? Let's just say it's a mixed bag.
First, the good: Kim said he is ready to meet with Trump again. “I am willing to meet the United States president at any time for the betterment of our international community,” he said in the New Year's Eve speech. He also suggested that if the U.S. were to agree to what he wants, he'd be happy to have a friendly relationship. “If the United States takes sincere measures and corresponding action to our leading and pre-emptive efforts, then (U.S.-North Korea) relations will advance at a fast and excellent pace through the process of implementing (such) definite and groundbreaking measures,” Kim added, per The Associated Press.
On the other hand, though Kim was optimistic about meeting with Trump, he warned that he may take a different path if U.S. sanctions and pressure against his country continue. Unfortunately, his demand is striking the same tune as previous ones: that North Korea won't denuclearize until the U.S. removes its nuclear threats and, of course, that sanctions against his country need to be lifted before it gives up its nuclear weapons. He said that North Korea would be forced to a different path if the United States "continues to break its promises and misjudges the patience of our people by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure." New year, no new Kim.
The pair first established friendly ties back in June during a summit in Singapore, roughly four months after Trump imposed the United States' largest sanctions to get North Korea to give up its nuclear programs. At the conclusion of the summit, Kim signed an agreement vowing to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But not much has happened since then — well, aside from a few drama-filled moments, like in August, when North Korea called out the U.S. for its "alarming" impatience regarding denuclearization and its sanctions against the foreign country, per The Telegraph. The pair were supposed to meet again in November 2018, but before they could sit down and hash everything out, the chat was canceled abruptly, which further stalled efforts toward denuclearization.
For his part, Trump has seemingly been mostly pointing out the good moments between the two. After Kim's New Year speech, for example, Trump tweeted that he was looking forward to chatting with the foreign leader, "who realizes so well that North Korea possesses great economic potential!"
And on Dec. 2, 2018, he told reporters:
I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un ... He is agreeing to work with me 100 percent on North Korea, and that’s a big thing, too ... We’re getting along very well. We have a good relationship.
According to USA Today, he also said he expected another summit with Kim to take place during January or February 2019. So we'll have to wait and see what happens there.
Whatever happens, hopefully these two won't revert back to their wild tweets and back-and-forth name-calling. If you somehow missed it, these two notably traded barbs between 2017 and 2018 , hiking up tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, and leading to fears of war. Some of the moments range from Kim threatening to strike U.S. territories and calling the president an "old lunatic." Trump also called Kim belittling names like "rocket man," and warned the North Korean leader that his threats would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Amid the hostility in May 2018, Trump infamously canceled a meeting with Kim, blaming the North's "tremendous anger and open hostility," per BBC News.
Yeahhh, let's not bring this energy into 2019. Who's with me?