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'I can't speak English well': Kim had butterflies in stomach before Trump summit

2024-07-13 20:56:43      点击:004
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walk on a boardwalk bridge in the truce village of Panmunjeom during their April summit. Korea Times
President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walk on a boardwalk bridge in the truce village of Panmunjeom during their April summit. Korea Times

By Oh Young-jin

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un confided in President Moon Jae-in that he was worried about his not being able to speak English well before his June 12 summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, a former aide to President Moon recently told a Korean newspaper.

"I am worrying about my lack of English proficiency," Kim was quoted by Tak Hyun-min as telling Moon during their 30-minute walk during at the April 27 summit in the truce village of Panmunjeom. Tak's revelation was made during an interview with the progressive Kyunghyang daily newspaper, published on Monday.

"I can speak German well," the North Korean leader told Moon.

The Moon-Kim summit took place ahead of the Singapore summit in June. The two walked together for 30 minutes alone on a 50-meter boardwalk bridge erected on the demarcation line (MDL) that separates the two Koreas. There was a lot of speculation as to what the two leaders talked about. Tak said that he had heard from Moon about what Kim said.

President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walk on a boardwalk bridge in the truce village of Panmunjeom during their April summit. Korea Times
Tak Hyun-min was involved in preparing for the inter-Korean summit last year as a presidential aide. Korea Times

Kim studied in Switzerland and was said to study English as well. During his meetings with Trump in June and later in Hanoi, he was seen talking with Trump, but with interpreters for both leaders close on their heels. It was not clear whether Kim made the confession because he had butterflies in his stomach.

Tak said that after the meeting, Moon told him that he had quite a "friendly" chat with Kim. Tak worked until March as protocols official at Cheong Wa Dae, being given credit for bringing "entertainment" elements to presidential events. He now works as non-standing presidential adviser.

He said that Kim told him he had done a good job for the summit preparations when he met Moon's retinue after the summit. His wife, Ri Sol-ju, repeated this, he added.

Tak said that the Moon-Kim joint visit to Mt. Baekdu in their Sept. 18-20 summit in Pyongyang was not planned, dismissing speculation that it was a "surprise" event prepared by the two sides because Moon and members of the southern delegation wore thermal jackets for a climb on a cold weather.

"We had asked for it, but the North didn't confirm it until the day before," he said.


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