On Thursday, May 24, after months of planning and talking, President Donald Trump canceled his meeting with Kim Jong-un. While the cancelation of the meeting seemed somewhat abrupt, it was preceded by weeks of rising tensions and confusion over the meeting. The meeting between the president and the North Korean leader, which would have been a first-of-its-kind occurrence, was highly anticipated as a test of international relations between too frenetic leaders.
In a statement released on Thursday, Trump thanked Kim for his "time, patience, and effort" in discussing the summit, which had been scheduled to happen on June 12 in Singapore. The pleasantries ended in that first sentence. The president went on to say,
Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.
Ah yes, good ol' American diplomacy on display in that last line there.
In a statement on Wednesday, May 23, North Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs Choe Son Hui slammed Vice President Mike Pence with some, honestly, pretty nasty language — which has also been characteristic of how the American and North Korean leaders have spoken about each other in between bouts of niceties and summit planning. Referring to Pence's comments that North Korea would end up like Libya if Kim didn't make a deal (Libya's leader ended up overthrown and brutally killed by rebel fighters in 2011), Choe said, "I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice president."
Yeah, it's just like the burn book... but 1,000 times worse because it also involves the threat of nuclear war.
The cancelation came shortly after reports of an attempt from North Korea to show a willingness to somewhat compromise with the United States on nuclear weapons. Trump had wanted to create "World Peace!" with his meeting, potentially by getting Kim to agree to denuclearization. The two nations had bitten back at each other in public remarks on that, but on April 20, Trump tweeted that Kim had agreed to suspend nuclear testing and shutter a major test site.
Early Thursday morning, North Korea invited international journalists to view them apparently destroying three nuclear tunnels, observation buildings, a metal foundry, and living spaces at a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, according to CNN, although journalists could not confirm if the tunnels were actually destroyed. Hours later, Trump announced he was canceling the summit.
Although in light of that demonstration the cancelation seemed abrupt, there have been hints that the summit might not happen, namely in that Trump literally told reporters that the summit "may not work out for June 12" on May 22. This came after Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who himself has been making major efforts to try and work with the North Korean leader, as demonstrated in their first-ever meeting in April, at the White House. Trump did add then, though, that although the meeting may not happen on June 12, "maybe it will happen later."
Trump had been touting this meeting as a major diplomatic achievement, and there were even talks of a Nobel Prize for his efforts (well, from Trump to Trump, at least). Now, that seems like a lost cause.
Still, in his letter on May 24, Trump did say that he "some day" looks "very much forward to meeting [Kim]," and he thanked him for releasing American hostages. Trump concluded his letter by saying that Kim could give him a ring if he changed his mind and wanted to meet.
"The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth," Trump wrote. "This missed opportunity is truly a sad moment in history."