Letters exchanged between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and former U.S. President Donald Trump between April 2018 and August 2019 have recently been published.
Korean-American Club, a nonprofit composed of South Korean journalists from different news agencies, published 27 personal letters exchanged between Kim and Trump in the latest issue of its magazine, The Korus Journal. “I am ready to work with your excellency with all my heart and devotion,” Kim said in a letter dated April 1, 2018, nearly six weeks before he first met Trump at the Singapore Summit.
On the same day, Trump responded that he was “happy to meet” Kim to “drastically” improve relations between their respective governments.
Trump also wrote a letter thanking Kim for the repatriation of the remains of 55 U.S. troops who died during the 1950-53 Korean War.
“Thank you for keeping your promise to start the repatriation process of our soldiers,” Trump said in the letter dated Aug. 2, 2018. “I look forward to seeing you soon.”
Kim greeted Trump on his birthday in 2019 with a letter that also mentioned the one-year anniversary of their “historic” meeting in Singapore.
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Trump replied two days later, saying he and Kim shared a “unique relationship and a special friendship.”
The plan excludes then-South Korean President Moon Jae-in and then-U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo, with Kim noting that Moon’s interest is unnecessary.
“The most important cause of what your side considers the headache of ‘missile threats’ and nuclear problem is the military actions of your side and the South Korean military that threatens our safety,” Kim wrote. “And until these elements are eliminated, no changed outcome can be anticipated.”
Kim reportedly sent Trump the letters three months after their first summit in Singapore. At the time, North Korea was under heightened pressure to commence negotiations on potential denuclearization.
Trump, who has dubbed the messages “love letters,” sent 16 letters to the North Korean leader, who sent 11. In 2020, journalist Bob Woodward quoted excerpts from the letters in his book “Rage.”
The book posited that the letters indicated a “diplomatic courtship” that resulted in Trump making history as the first sitting U.S. president to meet with a North Korean leader. According to Woodward, the messages were filled with “declarations of personal fealty that might be uttered by the Knights of the Round Table, or perhaps suitors.”
The two leaders exchanged letters actively for about a year, halting only after their second summit in Hanoi failed to make progress. In Kim’s final letter in August 2019, he complained to Trump that North Korea had gained nothing from the U.S.
“As of now, it is very difficult for me and my people to understand the decision and behavior of you and South Korean authorities,” read Kim’s letter, dated Aug. 5, 2019.
Kim expressed how “offended” he was by the “paranoid” war exercises jointly conducted by the U.S. and South Korean soldiers.
“As your excellency indicated at some point, we have a strong military … and it is a matter of common knowledge that the [South Korean] armed forces are no match for our military,” Kim added. “Setting aside the differences in military power, I have no intention to attack South Korea or start a war. I have no inclination to do that indeed.”