After saying there was “absolutely” a chance that the US and North Korea could get involved in a “major, major conflict” in an interview with Reuters, President Donald Trump seemed to praise North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, in a way that may reveal a strange connection between the two.
“Not many 27-year-old men could go in and take over a regime… Say what you want, but that’s not easy — especially at that age,” said Trump.
This isn’t the first time Trump has praised Kim.
“How many young guys — he was, like, 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden … he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss,” said Trump during the campaign, according to ABC News. “It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one. I mean, this guy doesn’t play games.”
The Washington Post described Trump’s comments on Kim as “empathetic,” but Jeffrey Lewis, founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, has another theory.
In a series of tweets, Lewis explained that Kim’s real age is a total mystery. Some estimate he was born in 1982, while others say he was born as late as 1984.
But according to Lewis, the fact that Trump chose to peg Kim’s age at 27 is significant. Trump himself took over his father’s company, Trump Management, at the age of 27.
Lewis concludes that Trump wasn’t so much praising the dictator as he was lauding his own accomplishment.
Whatever Trump’s emotional intention with his words, his comments on Kim come at a time when the US seems to be entering a new phase in dealing with North Korea — one that may include speaking to Kim directly.
On Friday, the same day his Reuters interview went out, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson finally signalled that the US may seek direct talks with North Korea.
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