President Donald Trump said on Thursday morning, upon meeting with three hostages held in North Korea recently released back to the U.S., that the prisoners were treated in an “excellent” way by the brutal regime.
That statement doesn’t fit well with what we know about North Korea and what limited information we know so far about the detainees — and it speaks volumes about Trump’s ignorance on those facts.
“We want to thank [North Korea Supreme Leader] Kim Jong Un, who really was excellent to these three incredible people. They are really three incredible people,” Trump said Thursday.
He also alluded to planned peace talks with North Korea in his statements.
“The fact that we were able to get them out so soon was really a tribute to a lot of things, including a certain process that’s taking place right now,” he said.
Giving glowing praise to North Korea forgets how they’ve treated hostages in the past — including Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old man who died as a result of torture conducted on him by the regime. North Korea had technically freed Warmbler last year, but not before he had entered into a coma. He perished shortly after, and his parents are now suing Kim.
The treatment of the three hostages released this week — Tony Kim, Kim Hak Song, and Kim Dong Chul — is also circumspect at this point, and saying they were treated in an “excellent” manner is premature on the part of the president.
The hostages described being subjected to hard labor by the regime, and one of the detainees, according to an account relayed to Vice President Mike Pence from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, had asked to see the sun rise in Anchorage because “he hadn't seen daylight in a very long time,” Pence said.
"We are seeing hopeful signs from Kim Jong Un..." @VP Pence sits down one-on-one with @jonkarl to discuss the release of three U.S. prisoners detained in North Korea ahead of President Trump's high-stakes summit: https://t.co/hfI4SyTIZt pic.twitter.com/xzeqsboghK— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 10, 2018
All of this to say that Trump doesn’t quite understand who he’s dealing with in trying to establish negotiations with North Korea. This president’s grasp on reality is so warped that he’s even unfairly blamed former President Barack Obama for failing to get the hostages back, even though two of the hostages were captured under Trump’s watch.
There’s little doubt that Trump is in way over his head. It is a wonderful thing that these men have been released from bondage, and that should be celebrated. But Trump exaggerated the conditions under which they likely lived.
What else is he clueless on, and how much will that affect negotiations with the recluse regime in the future? Hopefully, the president can get a better understanding of just who he’s dealing with. If not, it’s possible that Trump’s lackluster deal-making with the regime could result in a bad outcome for the rest of the world.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Lee Jin-man/Reuters