At the summit, unscripted moments steal the show

A video produced by the White House shows North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and President Trump during their summit.
JIM LO SCALZO/EPA/Shutterstock
A video produced by the White House shows North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and President Trump during their summit.

SINGAPORE — When the president of the United States pulls out an iPad and shows the leader of North Korea a slick, bombastic video — essentially a Hollywood-style trailer presenting the North’s possible future, featuring fighter jets and missile launches cut together with images of dancing children, artisanal pizza, and time-lapse sunrises over skyscrapers — you know this is not an ordinary summit meeting.

Then again, the historic encounter between President Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was never going to be just any summit.

The video, which the White House also showed to the traveling press corps before Trump answered questions at a rambling news conference, showcased the president’s reality television sensibility.


Complete with an ominous voice-over and a swelling soundtrack, the film staked out a choice for Kim without specifically mentioning nuclear weapons or sanctions relief: He could “shake the hand of peace and enjoy prosperity like he has never seen” or slide back into “more isolation.”

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From the moment just two weeks ago the on-again, off-again summit between Trump and Kim was declared back on, it was a foregone conclusion that it would be one of the most dramatic meetings ever of two world leaders.

Together, Trump and Kim created political theater like no other. There were plenty of riveting scenes, including several clearly spontaneous moments that heightened the drama.

Just after Trump and Kim took a brief stroll after lunch, the president led Kim to take a look inside the Cadillac presidential limousine, known as the Beast. For a second it looked as if Kim might climb inside before his aides stopped him. — NEW YORK TIMES

Veterans groups see POW issue addressed

WASHINGTON — Nestled in the joint document signed by Trump and Kim was a short bullet point that addresses a long-running concern of US veterans groups: the recovery of the remains of thousands of American soldiers who were killed or captured in North Korea during the Korean War.


The two countries agreed to ‘‘commit’’ to recovering the remains of fallen soldiers, ‘‘including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,’’ according to the document.

The statement represents a significant victory for veterans groups, which lobbied forcefully behind the scenes for a renewed effort on the recovery of remains — in an environment in which many non-nuclear issues, including human rights and the return of Japanese abductees, were left unaddressed.

The remains of 5,300 US soldiers killed or captured in North Korea are still unaccounted for north of the demilitarized zone, resting in cemeteries and former labor camps and at battle sites.

From 1990 to 2005, joint US-North Korean search teams repatriated 229 sets of remains.

But the cooperation was abruptly suspended in 2005 as political relations between the countries deteriorated.


In recent days, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his negotiating team that the prisoner of war issue was important to Trump. The president, during a news conference on Tuesday, said he had received ‘‘countless’’ phone calls from Americans asking for help on the issue. — WASHINGTON POST