One has to wonder if Trump has ever scanned a briefing paper on Korea’s notorious Kim family


Robert Hurst was CTV’s Asia Correspondent in the 1980s

By Robert Hurst

The Kims and I

It was a murder, 35 years ago, that sparked my fascination with North Korea.

In the autumn of 1983, I had interviewed the Foreign Minister of South Korea, Lee Beom-seok. Mr. Lee was exceedingly helpful to a Canadian correspondent trying to understand the Koreas.

A few weeks later, on October 9, 1983, Foreign Minister Lee was assassinated by North Korea. He was one of four South Korean Cabinet Ministers who were killed that day when an enormous bomb exploded in Rangoon, Burma. North Korean agents had planted the bomb.

In the succeeding decades, I have been mesmerized by North Korea, an outlaw state run by a narcissistic family who have murdered, tortured and imprisoned with impunity for decades.

For several weeks now, we’ve seen President Donald Trump sucking up to the brutal dictator in North Korea. Trump, fawning, actually used the word “honorable.”

One wonders if President Trump has ever read a book or scanned a briefing paper, or listened to a defector from North Korea. For 70 years, the Kim family has brutalized and terrorized nearly every single living person in North Korea, a country of 23-million people.

Kim Jong-un is the third mafia don. He’s the grandson of ‘The Great Leader” and son of the “Dear Leader.” In chat rooms across Asia, Kim Jong-un is called “Kim Fatty the Third.” If his secret police heard you say that, you would be arrested and tortured. So would your family. If you admit you are a Christian, you would be shot.

If we watch President Trump at the Singapore Summit shake hands and embrace the 32-year-old Kim, one might ask, “How many people, Mr. Kim, were tortured to death in your gulags this week?”

Five years ago, the United Nations was so concerned about stories of depravity and genocide leaking out of North Korea that it formed a Commission to investigate. The UN rarely does that, but the world’s diplomats felt an overwhelming moral responsibility.

A learned Australian High Court Justice, Michael Kirby, led the Commission. The damning report documented extensive atrocities. The UN Commission wanted to refer its findings to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It wanted to prosecute Kim Jong-un and his inner circle for crimes against humanity.

Nothing was done.

Maybe Donald, on your flight over to Singapore, you might study some of the words used by the UN Special Commission: “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, rape, forced abortions, prolonged forced starvation.”

So what, Donald, is your goal?

The Kims have made kissy-face and cuddle-up before. They have promised to de-nuclearize before. They have lied and cheated before.

John Bolton, the new White House National Security Advisor was once asked: “How do you know when the North Koreans are lying?” “When they move their lips,” he said.

The Kim clan, like most mafia outfits, is motivated by one thing: family longevity. Presumably regime change will not be on the bargaining table in Singapore.

It’s easy to forget that 516 Canadian soldiers died carrying the UN flag during the Korean War. Kim Jong-un’s grandfather started the war and the Kim family has vowed to finish it with a victory. Yet there is political movement on the Korean Peninsula. A Nobel Peace prize, say some Republicans, is there for the taking.

So Donald, will you be tough with this outlaw state, or will the Kims, like so many US Presidents in the past, seduce you?

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  1. Just one of Donald Trump’s personas is the naive neophyte. Anyone who has survived, let alone thrived in the NYC real estate scene, is anything but naive about those who wield political power anywhere in the world.

    • Len Macdonald on

      He didn’t “thrive” at anything. He declared bankruptcy four times. And how did he manage bankrupt a casino?

      • He established over 500 companies–four bankruptcies out of 500 is actually a very good record. The bankruptcy laws were made to protect the wealthy by allowing them to terminate losing businesses while limiting their losses to that particular business. Sometimes, businessmen over-reach, hoping to win their bet, Sometimes they lose. If they win more than they lose, they build their substance.

  2. Karen Wehrstein on

    Read a book or scanned a briefing paper, or listened to a defector from North Korea? You’ve got to be kidding. The White House staff has to break down briefings into point form with pictures to get him to look at them — in other words, make them look more like kids’ books. He doesn’t give two you-knows about defectors. He buddies up with powerful narcissistic mobbed-up thugs because he is one.
    BTW I served a very short internship with CTV National News in 1983, and I remember your pieces. Might even have written an intro for one.

    • It’s apparent to me that the so called leader lacking in intelligence and with a highly elevated case of narcissism is none other than Justin Trudeau who has inflicted himself on Canadians as their prime minister. Rex Murphy of The National Post wrote a superb article, “Senseless Slogans But No Sunny Ways” touching on this issue.
      Read this REX MURPHY column HERE at Canadians for Affordable Energy:
      An excerpt:
      With words he’s a dud. I am not referring only to his delivery, which is frequently a series of stammers, the “uhs” and “ahs” and “ums” that seem to carpet bomb his every sentence. That might be just nervousness when called on in a scrum, or in an off moment on the campaign trail. Mr. Trudeau’s bad even when he’s prepared. We’re not reaching for comparisons to Lincoln or Churchill. For contrast Stephen Harper will do just fine. Harper is Cicero compared to Trudeau.

      Poor verbal skills are a major deficit in a leader. In the absence of the ability to speak forcefully and articulately, certain defenses must be called up. In Mr. Trudeau’s case he seeks protection in a handful of stock phrases and tag lines, monotonous strings of platitudes endlessly iterated. On any of his progressive fixations – male feminism, inclusivity, gender, the indigenous file – we have all grown familiar with the litany of pat formulas and ready truisms.

    • This is from a disaffected top aide to President Franklin Roosevelt by the name of Raymond Moley:

      “… His knowledge of political and constitutional history and theory is distinctly limited. During all the time I was associated with him I never knew him to read a serious book. . . In the years of my association with him, he has never evidenced any appreciation of the basic philosophical distinctions in the history of American political thought. . .

      Perhaps that is why FDR never developed the easy command of language which characterized so many who preceded him in the Presidency. . . Nevertheless he has a keen sense of language, and this is shown in the magnificent manner in which he delivers a written speech. . .

      He is intensely loyal to the people in his official family . . . At no time does he seem to doubt that the tried and true leaders of his party would supinely do his bidding.

      He has a genuine horror of discharging an incompetent subordinate. . . This reluctance to make clear-cut personnel decisions is the source of some of the indescribable confusions that mar FDR’s administration of the Presidency. Often he would not remove a person who was not doing the work assigned to him, but would appoint another person with a new title such as “coordinator.” Thus, two people would be doing the job which should have been assigned to one. . .

      Day after day there is the subtle flattery from those who come to ask favors or to win the ingratiating smile. The endless streams of those who have appointments do not use the time to purvey unpleasant truths. And if a man is told hour after hour and day after day how right he is, he will, unless he has extraordinary defenses, come to believe that he can never be wrong. . .

      There was, for one thing, Trump’s spirited disdain of most of the political rules that usually govern such things. He considered himself under no direct obligations to no man so far as Cabinet appointments were concerned. Neither recognized party leadership nor active campaign support figured heavily in his calculations. . .

      “Disloyalty” is suspected everywhere by the White House. . .

      Never until the moment I heard Roosevelt deliver that speech on that January night did I realize the extent to which verbal excess can intoxicate not only those who hear them but those who speak them. . . Thoughtful citizens were stunned by the violence, the bombast, the naked demagoguery of these sentences. No one who has merely read them can half know the meaning conveyed by the cadences of the voice that uttered them…”

      Political power is an intoxicant for all who wield it—especially for those who issue it from an invisible hand.

  3. Terry McCaffery on

    President Obama routinely spent 2-3 hours every evening reading briefs prepared by his staff on issues that were ranked according to importance. President Trump routinely engages in pillow talk with his alter ego, Sean Hannity just about every evening! Trump admires dictators/authoritarian leaders because he is a strong man wanna-be!

  4. President Trump’s self-proclaimed reason for the North Korea visit: “to use my friendship with Kim Jong-un to bring world peace”. Does he think that he’s a contestant in a Ms. World Pageant? Oops! It couldn’t be that. He’s too misogynistic to touch anything like that; unless it’s with a well-practiced fanny pat. Maybe he’s just building on the cancellation of the nuclear agreement with Iran to exacerbate world tension in general. Remember when North Korea was one of his first nuclear strike targets; before Syria; and possibly Iran (now that they’re free to escalate their nuclear capability).
    It’s amazing to consider how much of President Obama’s 8-year legacy he has eroded in a mere 2 years. And this week it surfaced that a Russian oligarch (a close friend of Putin’s) deposited $500,000 to an account controlled by ex-Trump-lawyer Michael Cohen. Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 from this account. But this is all a “witch hunt” and we should more concerned about those thousands of Hillary’s e-mails. I’m proud to be a Canadian: but it doesn’t make me feel any safer.

  5. Brian Tapley on

    Trump is a sad embarrassment to the office of President. He has managed to take the “Presidentiality” out of the office and replace it with his version of Homer Simpson.
    Not only is this a step backwards that may take decades to remediate but in some situations the results can be downright dangerous to world peace.
    There is more to the art of statesmanship than just “getting a deal”. There is honor, integrity, honesty and morality involved and Trump seems to lack in these departments.

  6. Really–Canadians should not comment on American politics as they are much too naive to understand it. Unfortunately, Canadians believe the media propaganda. The mainstream media amounts to only FIVE huge corporations which are totally controlled by globalist hegemons. They promote those who cooperate with their agenda and they attempt to obliterate those who don’t.

    • rob millman on

      I apologize for my naivete, Ms. Jones, but somehow Mr. Avenatti (Ms. Daniel’s lawyer) obtained a copy of those particular bank records. This is not fake, read Fox, news; or Fox and Friends. If you were so interested in your career in political news, why are you no longer pursuing it? And, with respect, if you are able to contradict me, please do. Humiliation does not become you.

      • What is there to “contradict”? There is much more afoot than what appears on the surface. Who are the players and what are they doing? As usual, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” The wisdom of Solomon is seen in Proverbs 25:2-3–it is timeless.

      • You missed my point–it is gullibility that is the focus of my remark. Canadians long ago learned not to trust politicians, to our credit. Now, as a people, we must learn to distrust the media as well. To quote the great Canadian expert on communications theory, Marshall McLuhan : “All media exists to invest our lives with artificial perception and arbitrary values.” Those who own it control its content.

        To quote an even more cynical expert on journalism: “The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and [ the human] race for his daily bread.”

        “You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the
        property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.” —-John Swinton

        John Swinton (1829-1901) was the former Head of Editorial Staff for the New York Times. He was one of America’s best loved newspapermen. Called by his peers “The Dean of his Profession” The date of these remarks was at the occasion of a banquet in his honor in 1880. This is not the whole of his address but the rest of it is online for those who care to read it. The New York press was, in those days, very controlled by a few industrialist “robber barons”–like Jay Gould. They gave way to to the press barons–like Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolph Hearst, Frank Gannett, etc. The only way to combat the monopolistic control of the media by wealthy men is to support the breakup of the media conglomerates and to support local independently-owned media–such as this publication. 🙂

    • Terry McCaffery on

      “Really-Canadians should not comment on American politics as they are too naive to understand it”

      What a condescending, insulting, and patronizing statement! Do you think Canadians are just a bunch of unsophisticated, rube, yokels who do not possess the intelligence to discern fact from fiction in the media? What special insight or inside knowledge do you possess that allows you to state unequivocally that all Canadians believe the media propaganda! You do not speak for me as I always question the source of the news which I read or watch. There is no global conspiracy by giant media corporations to control or manipulate information. What proof do you have that supports the existence of such a conspiracy? Just look at the disparate reporting and editorial stances taken by such news giants as CNN and FOX: they offer diametrically opposing views of politics in America! They are certainly not involved in some grand conspiracy to promote some pernicious globalist agenda. Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and owner of The Washington Post is the absolute political opposite of Rupert Murdoch, owner of the FOX Network! Bezos is a left leaning Democrat while Murdoch is the epitome of an arch conservative business tycoon! These two gentlemen could not agree on lunch!!! Most news organizations have some degree of political bias be it a conservative or liberal stance but the majority of them strive to maintain some integrity, honesty and fairness in their reporting. I am Canadian. I am not naive and I do understand American politics! And I take umbrage at anyone who makes generalized pronouncements on what Canadians can or cannot understand!

      As you have a penchant for including quotes from long deceased individuals to further enhance your arguments, here is one for me:

      “…and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
      Thomas Jefferson 1787

      • LOL–apparently I touched a nerve, Terry? Here, I have a Jefferson quote for you:

        ““I deplore… the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them… These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food.”

        (“sound food” for Jefferson was the reading of books)

        Here’s another one: “The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers… [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper.”

        You can read the rest of Jefferson’s anti-newspaper quotes here:

        Apparently, your pro-newspaper quote came from Jefferson when he was feeling more generous toward them. However, he had far more animus toward large central governments (read despotic ones) and despised any efforts to use the newspapers to further the agendas of those same despotic governments. Despite your obvious outrage, there was no insult meant. Canadians are a good-hearted people, in general, and that is a strength of our people as well as the high level of integrity seen in most Canadians. But a strength can turn to a weakness when one cannot imagine that others among us have far less integrity than we do. By the way, I did not say that all Canadians were naive. No need to twist yourself into a pretzel. Just curious–do you really believe that Murdoch and Bezos are in real opposition to each other?

  7. Terry McCaffery: “…As you have a penchant for including quotes from long deceased individuals to further enhance your arguments…”

    This is a bit of a by-the-by, Terry–but it is probably a mistake to criticize others for attempting to bring an historical perspective to a discussion. Awareness of what thinkers of the past had to say on various subjects help us to avoid making the mistakes which were made in the past. But, it requires a more thorough understanding of what they thought instead of a quick grab at a single quote.

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