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Kim Jong Un Is Masterfully Playing Trump’s Game

The North Korean leader’s moves show a keen sense of The Art of the Deal.
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Photo illustration: 731; Photos: Getty Images

Donald Trump will soon sit down to the most consequential negotiation of his career if, as expected, he becomes the first U.S. president to meet a North Korean leader since the devastating war on the peninsula in the 1950s. Trump, of course, wrote a book on dealmaking, only this time nuclear war and peace will hang in the balance, rather than a real estate contract. And on the evidence so far, his sparring partner Kim Jong Un has mastered The Art of the Deal, too. In fact, frequent North Korea visitor Dennis Rodman told TMZ he gave Kim a copy of the book for his birthday in 2017.

Trump offered 11 pieces of advice to budding negotiators in his 1987 book, and Kim seems to have put at least half of them to good use, starting with the first: Think Big. It was Kim who proposed a meeting with Trump earlier this year as he sought to de-escalate a spiral of threats and counterthreats over a series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests. What nobody knows, as new national security adviser John Bolton acknowledged on April 29 on CBS’s Face the Nation, is whether Kim really means to put North Korea’s complete, verifiable, and irreversible disarmament on the table.