Documentary shows Trump saluting North Korean general
North Korean state television aired a 42-minute documentary on Thursday that offered a different view of Kim Jong Un’s meeting with President Trump in Singapore.
Notably, the documentary appears to have captured several scenes that international news organizations missed — including one awkward moment when Trump was saluted by a North Korean military leader. The U.S. president then salutes in return.
Though only a brief interaction, it was telling that the salute was included in the documentary, according to Jean H. Lee, a North Korea scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
“This is a moment that will be used over and over in North Korea’s propaganda as ‘proof’ that the American president defers to the North Korean military,” Lee said. “It will be treated as a military victory by the North Koreans.”
The Korean Central Television documentary showed events largely from Kim’s perspective, from his departure from Pyongyang aboard an Air China plane on Sunday to his arrival in Singapore, where he was greeted by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and his being whisked through the city past large crowds of onlookers.
In a voice-over, North Korea’s famous newsreader Ri Chun Hee said the size of the crowd was “unprecedented” for Singapore.
Kim is shown relaxing in a luxurious suite at the St. Regis Singapore, the five-star hotel where he stayed. He later goes to visit Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Footage is also shown of an evening sightseeing trip across the city with Balakrishnan on Monday.
Trump does not appear in the documentary until almost halfway through, when he is shown entering the Capella Singapore
hotel on the resort island of Sentosa for talks with Kim. Most of the footage of the summit is similar to what was captured by international news agencies.
When meeting No Kwang Chol, minister of the People’s Armed Forces and a top North Korean military leader, Trump initially tried to shake his hand. No pulled his hand back and then saluted the president. Trump then responded with his own salute, before the two men shook hands as Kim smiles in the background.
Presidents aren’t required to return salutes to military personnel, even U.S. soldiers — Ronald Reagan supposedly started the tradition of the president regularly returning the salute to members of the U.S. military. And it is highly out of the ordinary for a president to return the salute of a member of a foreign military.