clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Watch this campy North Korean propaganda video of the summit

Featuring Kim Jong Un flying in a plane, Kim Jong Un looking at flowers, and other riveting scenes.

Kim Jong Un waves goodbye as he gets on a plane to Singapore for the summit.
Kim Jong Un waves goodbye as he gets on a plane to Singapore for the summit.
SBS News

If you thought you’d seen all there was to see from this week’s summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, think again.

North Korean state media has released a propaganda video of the event, featuring 42 glorious minutes of behind-the-scenes footage.

Scenes include Kim taking off from the Pyongyang airport as dozens of uniformed members of the North Korean armed forces scream in unison, Kim studiously looking over notes as he flies through the clouds to Singapore, Kim landing in Singapore, Kim driving through the streets of Singapore, and Kim looking at flowers at a botanical garden in Singapore.

And that’s just the first 15 minutes.

Kim Jong Un reads papers on the plane while flying to Singapore. SBS News
Kim Jong Un looking at flowers at a botanical garden in Singapore. SBS News

There’s also a shot of Kim lounging awkwardly in a hot pink velvet armchair at the St. Regis hotel, where he stayed the night before the summit.

Kim Jong Un lounges in a hot pink velvet armchair. SBS News

The rest of the video shows the actual meeting between Trump and Kim — including behind-the-scenes footage the American and international press didn’t get to see, such as extended footage of the negotiations between the two sides and a particularly striking scene in which President Trump salutes a senior North Korean general, while Kim looks on.

President Donald Trump and his advisers at the negotiating table with Kim and his advisers. SBS News
President Donald Trump salutes a senior North Korean general as Kim Jong Un looks on. SBS News

The whole thing is narrated by a (presumably North Korean) woman, who is more excited to be narrating this video than you’ve ever been excited about anything in your entire life.

It’s all in Korean with no subtitles, but it really doesn’t matter — everything you need to know is conveyed through her ecstatic tone and the background music, which alternates from cheery sitar music to presidential parade music to music that sounds ripped straight from an Indiana Jones movie.

It ends with Kim‘s victorious arrival back home at Pyongyang airport, where he is greeted by a crowd of hundreds of North Korean party officials and citizens cheering, weeping, and waving little North Korean flags.

It’s everything a bloodthirsty dictator could want in a propaganda film.

Hundreds of North Korean party officials cheer and wave small North Korean flags at Pyongyang airport to welcome Kim Jong Un back home after the summit. SBS News

The summit was a huge propaganda win for Kim

North Korea’s leaders have long wanted to be seen as major players on the world stage and to be accorded the respect and legitimacy given to nuclear powers. And they’ve viewed a one-on-one meeting with the president of the United States as a crucial way to attain that status.

Yet successive US presidents — from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama — have refused to meet face to face with North Korea’s leaders (either Kim Jong Un or his father, Kim Jong Il, who ruled until his death in 2011) for just that reason.

“Since I came into office, the one thing I was clear about was, we’re not going to reward this kind of provocative behavior,” then-President Obama said in 2013 about a possible meeting with Kim. “You don’t get to bang your spoon on the table and somehow you get your way.”

But that all changed when Trump took office — in part because of Trump’s personality and his belief in his own negotiating abilities, but also because North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities dramatically accelerated to the point that the US was basically running out of options by the time Trump took office.

“Kim Jong Un is desperately looking for international recognition of North Korea as a country in good standing, of his right to rule it, and of the legitimacy of his possession of nuclear weapons,” Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on North Korea’s nuclear program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, wrote at Foreign Policy.

Trump meeting with Kim, and praising his “great personality” in a press conference after the summit, certainly gives him that win.

But it’s actually more than that. North Korea didn’t give up anything major in the joint statement after the summit. The language is incredibly soft, with North Korea not making any major concessions to the United States. It’s considerably weaker, in fact, than what previous presidents had gotten during multilateral negotiations with the North.

“Each of the four main points was in previous documents with NK, some in a stronger, more encompassing way,” Bruce Klingner, a former CIA deputy division chief for Korea, tweeted on Tuesday. “The [denuclearization] bullet is weaker than the Six Party Talks language.”

So Kim gave up nothing and got both a propaganda win and a pledge from the US to suspend military exercises with South Korea. It’s an incredible diplomatic coup.

The propaganda video just adds a bit of pizzazz.

You can watch the entire video below:

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.