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North Korea's Kim Jong Un Joked About His Bad Image Abroad, South Korean Officials Say

The South Korean delegation that returned from meeting North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was impressed with his behavior over the dinner held Monday evening, just a few hours after their arrival.

The young ruler showed he was aware of his unfavorable international image—President Donald Trump branded him “Little Rocket Man” at a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September and referenced the North Korean leader’s height and weight in a tweet in November—and joked lightheartedly about it, South Korean officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The South Korean press also quoted unnamed officials who attended the dinner with the North Korean ruling family, and they described the atmosphere as pleasant and relaxed. At the meeting, during which Kim said he would suspend missile launches, he also joked about South Korean President Moon Jae-in no longer needing to wake up in the small hours of the morning to discuss provocations.

"So far, if we fired a missile, President Moon Jae-in went through the trouble of convening a national security council meeting," Kim said, according to South Korean officials quoted by the Yonhap news agency. "As I made up my mind today, President Moon will no longer have to wake up early in the morning," he added, noting that any matter could now be discussed directly between the two leaders in a phone call.

03_09_Dinner_Pyongyang In this handout image provided by the South Korean Presidential Blue House, Chung Eui-Yong, fourth from the right, head of the presidential National Security Office, talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their dinner in Pyongyang, North Korea, on March 5. South Korean envoys are to visit North Korea for two days to discuss issues. South Korean Presidential Blue House via Getty Images

The North and South Korean leaders are scheduled to meet next month, while the White House confirmed that Trump accepted an invitation to meet Kim by May.

A South Korean presidential official denied some of the reports about the dinner, in particular one instance, reported in the conservative newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, where Kim joked about being short and fat.

"Only five special envoys who attended the dinner know what was said between Chairman Kim and the envoys' delegation," presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said, asking the media to refrain from reports that could affect the easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, according to Yonhap.

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In Pyongyang, the South Korean delegation was served North Korean specialties discussed during a visit by Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, to South Korea last month.

"During her visit here, South Korean officials asked her about famous North Korean foods, such as onban [rice in chicken soup] and Pyongyang naengmyeon [cold noodles]. And the envoys were served onban at the dinner, and naengmyeon at the lunch the next day," the official said, according to The Korea Times.

The meal was washed down with copious amounts of alcohol, including wine, ginseng liquor and Pyongyang soju. “The bottles kept coming,” an official with knowledge of the meeting told Reuters.

Kim Yo Jong and Kim Jong Un’s wife, Ri Sol Ju, were the only women sitting at the dinner table. South Korean officials used the opportunity to observe the relationship between the ruling couple. “They seemed to be quite close to one another, and he didn’t seem like one of your conservative husbands,” an official told Reuters.