- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly told National Security Adviser John Bolton he was “famous” in the country and offered to take a picture with him during last year’s US-North Korea summit in Singapore.
- Bolton reportedly responded to the proposal by laughing, a White House official told the Washington Post.
- The Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s propaganda arm, condemned Bolton six weeks prior to the Singapore summit.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly told National Security Adviser John Bolton he was “famous” in the country and offered to take a picture with him to assuage foreign policy hawks, according to a White House official cited in a Washington Post report Monday.
Bolton, a White House official whose hardline stance against North Korea and Iran is well documented, responded with laughter to the proposal at last year’s US-North Korea summit in Singapore, the official told The Post.
Prior to the Singapore summit in June 2018, the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s propaganda arm, condemned Bolton and suggested pulling out of the highly anticipated meeting with Trump. Bolton was widely criticised after he proposed a denuclearization model for North Korea, similar to that of Libya.
(Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi voluntarily gave up his country’s nuclear weapons program in 2003. Eight years later, he was killed by rebel forces that were supported by the US and NATO countries.)
“We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him,” North Korea’s vice minister wrote at the time.
Bolton, who previously floated the idea of a preemptive strike against North Korea, walked back his rhetoric after he was picked by President Donald Trump to replace his predecessor H.R. McMaster.
“They’re all out there on the public record,” Bolton said of his opinions in 2018. “I’ve never been shy about what my views are, but frankly, what I’ve said in private now is behind me at least effective April 9, and the important thing is what the president says and what advice I give him.”
At the time, Trump’s bellicose rhetoric against North Korea and his selection of Bolton alarmed many national security experts, fuelling worries of a imminent conflict with the regime.
Trump has also warmed his views on North Korea following his summit in Singapore. After threatening “fire and fury” against the regime, the president claimed he and Kim “fell in love” over the course of their negotiations.
Trump made numerous glowing remarks of Kim and his regime during the second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam in February. Trump discussed the “economic potential” for the regime if it continued to take steps towards denuclearization, despite the two countries hitting a snag and walking away from the summit without any concrete agreement.
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