Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un Are Giving 'Shock Therapy' to U.S.-North Korea Relations, Pro-Pyongyang Newspaper Argues

Pro-North Korean newspapers are lauding President Donald Trump's surprise weekend meeting with Kim Jong Un, claiming that the developing personal relationship between the two leaders is needed to overcome decades of animosity.

Trump became the first U.S. president to set foot in North Korea on Sunday when he met Kim at the border town of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. "Stepping across that line is a great honor," Trump said. "Great progress has been made, great friendships have been made and this has been, in particular, a great friendship."

The meeting came after months of stalled talks on North Korean denuclearization and sanctions relief. Trump has built his North Korea strategy around a personal relationship with Kim, which he hopes will be able to help the two sides overcome the complex diplomatic and technical hurdles that remain in the way of improved relations.

A pro-North Korean newspaper based in Japan certainly believes the approach is working, and on Monday claimed the weekend meeting was like "shock therapy" for the stalled talks, the Yonhap news agency reported.

An article in the Choson Sinbo said the relationship between Trump and Kim could be the key to ending "a century of hostile relations." Though Trump has been criticized for making many favorable remarks about Kim, the newspaper said that "overturning common sense and departing from formality and protocol is necessary" to achieve progress.

Trump's North Korea strategy appeared to have failed in February, when a summit with Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, broke up early with the two sides still too far apart on denuclearization and sanctions relief. This was followed by new North Korean weapons tests, the seizing of a North Korean tanker for violating sanctions, and multiple threatening statements from Pyongyang.

But the weekend meeting between Trump and Kim could be a "new driving force" for negotiations, Choson Sinbo said. It could also help the two nations "take the first step for the implementation of the Singapore joint declaration," the article suggested, referring to the document signed by the two leaders at their first meeting in June last year.

The meeting with Trump served as another propaganda coup for Kim, who is using his relationship with world leaders to bolster his credentials. Last month, for example, he hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Pyongyang.

Choson Sinbo suggested Kim's statecraft has transformed North Korea into a new diplomatic power. "Today's turbulent event took place due to the heightened international status of Korea as a new strategic country that has completed developing its nuclear capabilities and the change in the region's dynamics," the newspaper argued in a separate article.

"The diplomacy among those building a new international order has gained momentum" thanks to Sunday's meeting with Trump, it added.

Donald Trump, North Korea, Kim Jong Un
President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, on the border between North and South Korea. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty