On the day North Korea’s senior military leader General Kim Yong-Chol is in the U.S. for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to set up the much-anticipated summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, there is news circulating that there is a video of the North Korean leader reportedly crying over the state of the economy. The news of the video as well as the contents was described by a North Korean defector.
In the alleged video, which Japan's Asahi Shinbum quoted a defector with contacts inside the country has described, a narrator explains Kim is crying that he can't improve North Korea's economy.
The defector said the video surfaced in April and high-ranking members of North Korea's ruling party viewed it, possibly in an official message from Kim to the party. The defector speculated that the video was meant to prepare the country for possible changes after the summit with Trump.
At that time, Kim had already signaled to President Donald Trump that he was willing to negotiate and had met with senior U.S. officials, including then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Kim also reportedly offered up the option of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula to the U.S., China and South Korea.
The news of the video comes as both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are trying to make the June 12 summit happen. Experts have suggested that the decades long UN sanctions combined with a further clamp down on the U.S. end, of countries and organizations working with Pyongyang has crippled the DPRK’s economy. The country’s trade deficit which China, its only trading partner has ballooned in recent years. This could be Kim’s motivation for halting his nuclear programme which he says is complete and turning on a charm offensive to its southern brethren as well as towards the United States.
Experts on North Korea have concluded that Kim doesn't really want to give up his country's nuclear weapons, as he went to the trouble of writing the possession of nuclear weapons into North Korea's constitution. Instead, a new report from the CIA says Kim simply wants U.S. businesses, perhaps a burger joint, to open within the country as a gesture of goodwill and an economic carrot, CNBC reports.
However, this story comes with the caveat that North Korean defector testimonies are notoriously unreliable, according to Song Jiyoung, who has been interviewing North Koreans as a human rights researcher since 1999. That's because cash payments for stories have been "standard practice in the field for years," Song wrote in The Guardian in 2015.
Many testimonies from North Korean defectors have fallen apart. Song cites the case of several whose tall tales helped shape international policy in the United States and the bestselling book "Escape from Camp 14." Most claims go unverified, however, as getting into the country to fact-check is incredibly difficult.