Spending $20 million for no real results and to boost the legitimacy of a dictator?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong

The meeting between American President Donald Trump and North Korean ‘Supreme Leader’ is an event that is unprecedented in many ways more than one.

To facilitate the event, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday (10 Jun) that Singapore will spend more around $20 million with security arrangements costing around half that figure.

When pointed out that this is a high figure, he responded: “I think if you calculate the price of everything in this world, you will miss out on the really important things.

As PM Lee himself noted, there have been tensions going on around the Korean Peninsula for 70 years and all that “cannot [be] wipe[d] that all away in one meeting”.

Many observers have questioned whether there was a need to spend such a huge amount, and if there was any real substance in hosting the meeting considering that Trump had cancelled it at last moment’s notice while there was a verbal sparring with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

North Korean Experts: Kim agreed to meet Trump to boost his personal legitimacy at home

The Washington Post ran a story on Saturday (9 Jun) to explain that Kim’s real reason in agreeing to meet Trump is to “cement” his “legitimacy” at home.

According to North Korean leadership expert Ken Gause, Kim Jong Un “is a young leader who has no inherent legitimacy.” This is in contrast to his grandfather Kim Il Sung who “was the leader of the North Korean revolution” and father Kim Jong Il who “spent 20 years building a myth and patronage network”.

In 2013, the younger Kim announced that the country would shift away from the “military first” approach of his father. The country would embark on a “dual-track” policy to advance both the nuclear programme and the economy.

“In 2012, Kim Jong Un promised his people that they would never be hungry again. But he has not been so successful at that so far.” Said Professor Kim Seok-hyang, of the Ewha Womans University said.

After successfully testing a new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of hitting American soil, his new aim is to “boost the economy by getting rid of the international sanctions imposed as punishment for last year’s provocations”

This unprecedented summit would, therefore, bring “the jackpot: a meeting with the head of the world’s No. 1 superpower that will legitimize Kim as a leader – an equal, even – in a way that eluded both his predecessors”.

“Even if this is just a meet-and-greet, it’s going to be a huge event simply because [Kim and Trump] actually sat at the same table.” said Gause “If he can tell North Koreans that he brought the American president to the negotiating table, his legitimacy is going to go off the charts.”

“[North Korea] pockets all of it and lose essentially nothing,” said Christopher Hill, president George W. Bush’s lead nuclear negotiator with the North. “The North Koreans have already gotten what they need out of this. Their only issue is how much they have to give up.”

“This unprecedented meeting with the U.S. president will make Kim Jong Un feel very proud, having achieved something his father and grandfather didn’t.” said former North Korean defector Joo Seong-ha.

High level defector: North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons

Despite hope that North Korea will being stability to the region by giving up its nuclear weapons, a report by the Central Intelligence Agency has noted that North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons.

It is believed that the Kim family sees nuclear weapons as insurance to their rule and against a US invasion, having noted how the US had led a strike against Libyan leader Colonel Qaddafi in 2011, after he had agreed to give up nuclear weapons in 2003.

“If North Korea agreed to disarm, right after having by their own account attained an intercontinental thermonuclear capability, it would be completely unprecedented,” Nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein, a nuclear historian said. “This is one of many reasons to be skeptical that there is much chance of it happening.”

Former Deputy Ambassador to Britain and defector Thae Yong Ho said that the current whirlwind of diplomacy and negotiations will not end with “a sincere and complete disarmament” but with “a reduced North Korean nuclear threat”, said

“In the end, North Korea will remain ‘a nuclear power packaged as a non-nuclear state”.

South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo said in an editorial “It is regrettable that North Korea did not invite nuclear experts to the destruction of the test site. If North Korea has really decided to denuclearise, it has no reason not to invite them.”

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