State Media, Security Offer Glimpse Into Tightly Regimented North Korea


Both US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are due to arrive in Singapore on Sunday.

More than 1,000 people paid for a photo with the Kim-Trump lookalikes over the weekend.

"Prime Minister Lee welcomed Chairman Kim to Singapore". Just meeting with Trump will also give Kim recognition as the leader of a "normal" country and as an equal of the United States leader.

Just meeting with Trump will also give Kim a recognition North Korea has long sought, setting him up as global player and equal to the US domestically and, internationally, as the leader of a "normal country" worthy of respect.

The North Korean leader reportedly arrived at Changi Airport in Singapore Sunday afternoon, where he was met by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan.

Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!

The two were North Korean cameramen waiting to capture images of their leader, who all North Koreans are duty-bound to revere, arriving for a historic summit with U.S. president Donald Trump. The bodyguards formed a human shield around Kim's black Mercedes limousine at the Demilitarized Zone before it drove into North Korean territory.

There was heightened security at the St. Regis hotel in central Singapore, one of the hotels where the leaders were expected to stay. "It's North Korea", said one western tourist with a shrug.

"It will certainly be an exciting day and I know that Kim Jong-un will work very hard to do something that has rarely been done before".

The comment can be dismissed as casual optimism characteristic of the US leader, but the watchers interpreted it as suggesting that the atmosphere in their last-minute negotiations on denuclearization may not be discouraging.

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Trump and Kim plan to meet in Singapore on Tuesday. "We want to surprise our daughter, who lives in MI (in the US)", he said.

A year ago the North carried out what was by far its most powerful nuclear test to date and launched a flurry of missiles - including two over Japan - while Trump threatened Pyongyang with "fire and fury" and Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged USA dotard".

"I want, once more, to offer the beloved people of Korea an especial thought of friendship and prayer that the talks, which will take place in the coming days in Singapore, can contribute to the development of a positive path that guarantees a peaceful future for the Korean peninsula and for the whole world", the Pope said in his regular Sunday address.

Some members of Congress and of Mr. Trump's administration, including his national security adviser, John R. Bolton, have advocated regime change in the North.

It will be the first time that a sitting US president and a North Korean leader have met.

Pence also said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference that Trump is approaching the summit with confidence.

US defense and intelligence officials have assessed the North to be on the threshold of having the capability to strike anywhere in the continental USA with a nuclear-tipped missile - a capacity that Trump and other USA officials have said they would not tolerate.

On May 10, Trump announced he would hold a summit with Kim in Singapore and has since indicated he would try to reach an agreement to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

Although there are geopolitical and security interests at stake for China in the negotiations, Beijing has refrained from direct involvement in the summit between Trump and Kim.

Any deal would likely depend on North Korea's willingness to open its facilities for inspection.