In his autograph letters to then U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his intent to negotiate with the U.S. leader directly, saying then South Korean President Moon Jae-in had “excessive interest,” it has been newly revealed. The North Korean leader also sent an autograph letter, saying, “I was disappointed” as President Trump didn’t suspend South Korea-U.S. joint military drills while Pyongyang and Washington were engaged in negotiations.
The Korean American Journal, a quarterly foreign affairs magazine published by the Korean-American Club, released 27 autograph letters between Kim and Trump on Sunday. According to the journal, in Kim’s letter dated September 21, 2018, Kim wrote, “I hope to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula directly with you, Mr. President, rather than President Moon Jae-in going forward,” adding, “I think excessive interest President Moon has shown regarding our issue is unnecessary.” The letter was written two days after former President Moon held a summit meeting in Pyongyang and issued a September 19 Joint Statement in Pyongyang.
In his letter, Kim also revealed his discontent about South Korea-U.S. joint military drills without reservation. In his autograph letter dated August 5, 2019, a month after he met with President Trump at Panmunjom within the inter-Korean demilitarized zone, Kim said, “Who is the target (joint military drills) are seeking to attack and defeat,” adding, “I am disappointed, and I don’t want to hide this to you, Mr. President.” The letter read, “What have you (Trump) done for us, and how I can explain to the North Korean public what has changed since we met each other.” Thus, he expressed strong discontent about conducting joint military drills as scheduled even though Kim had attended the summit meeting at Panmunjom. “Unless you consider our relations a stepping stone that would benefit you, you would not make me look like a fool who only makes concessions but fails to receive anything in return.”
Kim’s letters revealed that the North Korean leader did not want senior US officials’ involvement and only wanted to talk directly with President Trump in a top-down way. Right after then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to North Korea was canceled, Kim wrote in his letter, “I believe that it would be more constructive to meet in person and exchange opinions with you, Mr. President, who has extraordinary political sense, rather than having a verbal battle over issues that are separating the two sides with Secretary Pompeo, who is not believed to have the ability to sufficiently convey your intentions.”
“Kim Jong Un did not believe in negotiations with senior officials nor did he want President Moon’s involvement in negotiations,” South Korea’s former Vice Unification Minister Kim Chun-shik said. “He wanted to carry his points by persuading President Trump through direct talks and believed it was possible.”
Ji-Sun Choi firstname.lastname@example.org