North Korea has released a new propaganda video touting the Trump-Kim summit. The new film is not to be confused with the video released by the White House during the summit that some reporters mistook for North Korean propaganda and that Slate’s Marissa Martinelli dubbed “an inexplicable ‘90s style movie trailer about denuclearization.”
This video has all the familiar trappings of North Korean messaging: shots of Kim Jong-un walking down a bright red carpet to his plane in Pyongyang while officers look on, Kim carefully poring over notes en route to Singapore, Kim taking a nighttime stroll through a botanical garden. All the while, grandiose music plays in the background.
The film clocks in at 42 minutes, and isn’t just about Kim. Trump also makes several appearances, shaking hands with North Korean officials, walking side-by-side with the chairman, smiling at him from across a dining room table decorated with white flowers. It’s a dramatic change in national narrative. Trump has in the past been vilified on North Korea’s state television for calling Kim “Rocket Man” and threatening “fire and fury” on the country. Kim himself famously described Trump as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” in a statement last September.
Another change in tone is the video’s treatment of Singapore. The film features meandering shots of Singapore’s streets and Kim admiring the country’s “clean and beautiful” buildings. Kim even says at one point that his country could “learn a lot” from Singapore’s economic development.
But again, the main focus is on Kim. “Numerous heads of state have visited Singapore, but there have never been in its history so many people crowding its streets welcoming a visitor than this time,” said North Korea’s state broadcaster, Korean Central Television, in the video. “The streets were overflowing with people adoring our great leader, who is driving complex international politics with supernormal political acumen.”
If you survive till the 23:41 mark, the film offers behind-the-scenes footage of Trump and Kim, including Trump saluting a North Korean military officer – a move that generated criticism and a defense from the White House when it was released yesterday.
In an interview with the New York Times, Kim Yong-hyun, a professor at Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea, put it this way: “The film’s message to the North Koreans is clear,” “Kim Jong-un is a daring leader dealing with the Americans as equals, holding himself with confidence in the global stage.”
The North Korean government has executed at least 340 of its own citizens since Kim came to power in 2011, according to the National Intelligence Service.