With a time lag that suggests a great deal of care and thought went into the final product, North Korea’s state media aired a 42-minute-long video offering its perspective on the historic meeting of President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
In that narrative, Kim is the unambiguous hero.
The state-run television aired these first videos and photos of the summit on Thursday, two days after the event and a full day after Kim returned home to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
“A lot of leaders of different countries have visited Singapore, but it is unprecedented in the history of Singapore to have streets filled with the welcoming crowd like this,” said Ri Chun-hee, the newsreader on state media, according to CNN. “Streets were full of people admiring the supreme leader for his brilliant political skills to lead complex and eventful international politics.”
The state media’s representation of the summit and Trump is extremely important because it gives North Koreans an idea not just of what’s going on, but of what response the government expects.
CNN reported that the video was likely some North Koreans’ first glimpse of the world outside the borders of their restricted and reclusive country.
And Kim was the star of the show.
Trump’s first appearance and the now-famous handshake didn’t come until almost 20 minutes into the program.
To the dramatic, almost musical intonations of the nation’s most famous newscaster, the program depicted Kim as statesmanlike beyond his years, confident and polite, quick to smile and firmly in control. He was shown allowing the older American — Trump, in his 70s, is more than twice Kim’s age — to lean in toward him to shake hands, or give a thumbs up.
The program also showed an awkward moment in which Trump reached out to shake the hand of a North Korean general, who instead saluted the American president. Trump saluted the officer in return, and the two then shook hands.
Before showing Trump and Kim signing their joint statement, the newscaster said Trump made a point of giving Kim a look at his armored Cadillac limousine, and noted that it is known to Americans as “the Beast.”
The image-heavy news of Kim’s trip to Singapore was presented like a chronologically organized documentary, starting with the red-carpet sendoff for Kim at the Pyongyang airport on, interestingly enough, a chartered Air China flight. That was followed by video of his motorcade making its way to the St. Regis hotel in Singapore as throngs of well-wishers assembled as though awaiting a rock star, and footage of Kim’s city-state night tour on Summit Eve.
The post-summit transformation of North Korea’s official version of Trump, who’s now being shown by state media looking serious and almost regal, underscores the carefully choreographed reality show the government has had to orchestrate. The goal: to keep its people, taught from childhood to hate and distrust the “American imperialists,” ideologically on board with seismic shifts in the relationship with Washington
The Associated Press contributed to this report.