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Moon: ‘Kim Jong Un is very honest, has international sense’

Moon: ‘Kim Jong Un is very honest, has international sense’

Posted June. 25, 2021 07:24,   

Updated June. 25, 2021 07:24


In an interview with the Time magazine, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to be “very honest … very enthusiastic [and] one with strong determination.” However, Time gave quite the opposite assessment of Kim, saying, “Chairman Kim brutally murdered his uncle and half-brother, and according to the historical report by the UN Commission of Inquiry in 2014, he masterminded “crimes against humanity’ including massacre, tortures, and rapes and was responsible for a prolonged famine.”

In the article entitled “South Korean President Moon Jae-in Makes One Last Attempt to Heal His Homeland,” President Moon replied “He has international sense” when asked about Kim’s character. When South Korean media outlets interpreted the word “honest” that Time used in the article as “truthful,” the South Korean presidential office said Thursday President Moon used the word “honest” rather than “truthful.”

While carrying Moon’s answers, however, Time said, “For many North Korea watchers, Moon’s steadfast defense of Kim is verging on delusional,” noting that the South Korean government is weakening human rights campaigns for the North. In the interview, Time described in details the process ranging from the start of rapprochement in the wake of three inter-Korean summit meetings in 2018 to the stalling of Washington-Pyongyang talks since the “no deal in Hanoi” in February 2019, which was the second U.S.-North Korea summit, and to the agreement between the South Korean and U.S. presidents “to closely coordinate when approaching Pyongyang.”

“I know time is running out,” President Moon Jae-in said, mentioning Kim Jong Un’s remarks that “It would be desirable children will not shoulder the burden of nuclear weapons” as Moon revealed his renewed commitment to improve inter-Korean ties. According to Time, there are more reasons for President Moon to have hope that breakthrough will be made, and after the short-lived “bromance” between Kim and former U.S. President Donald Trump ended, barriers to meetings will be lowered, and meetings have become politically safer.

The interview was conducted through videoconference on June 9, and was carried as the cover story in the Asia edition of the magazine. It is the first time in four years and two months that President Moon has appeared in the cover of Time’s Asia edition since the presidential election in May 2017.

Hyung-Jun Hwang constant25@donga.com