Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are finding that love cannot surmount all obstacles that life, as well as decades of warmongering and nuclear brinkmanship, put in your path.
On Wednesday, their summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended abruptly, with no agreement in place for either the denuclearization of North Korea, the easing of U.N. sanctions, or steps to defuse the tensions between North and South Korea.
“Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump said.
This comes despite the blossoming of an unlikely friendship and mutual admiration between Trump, who once derided the North Korean leader as “Little Rocket Man” and a “madman” and Kim, who called his counterpart a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and likened him to a “frightened dog.”
That was all before they met in Singapore in 2018, and before Kim began sending Trump what White House officials describe as effusive “love letters” in which, as reported by the Washington Post, “Kim addresses Trump as ‘Your Excellency’ and employs flowery language to describe the president’s energy and political smarts.”
At a rally in West Virginia last September, Trump put it simply: “We fell in love.”
Before the summit, Trump sounded confident. “It’s a very interesting thing to say, but I’ve developed a very, very good relationship,” Trump said on Sunday, according to the Post. “We’ll see what that means. But he’s never had a relationship with anybody from this country and hasn’t had lots of relationships anywhere.”
Alas, true love requires compromise, and neither man was willing to do the hard work of making a friendship work, despite the entreaties of their mutual friend and U.S. North Korean Goodwill Ambassador and former NBA player Dennis Rodman. Trump, refused to give up his goal of a complete end to North Korea’s nuclear program, and Kim wanted to keep parts of his military arsenal and at the same time end the harsh sanctions that have wreaked havoc on a country that was carpet-bombed for three years by the United States, destroying entire cities and killing hundreds of thousands of people.
“There’s a warmth that we have and I hope that stays,” Trump said after their meeting ended in failure, much to the dismay of the people of both North and South Korea, who are eager for peace. Trump is still willing to see the good in his friend, even going so far to say on Wednesday, in regards to the torture of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier while in North Korean custody and his subsequent death, “I don’t believe [Kim] would have allowed that to happen.”