It fell short of Donald Trump’s claim that he and Kim Jong-un had “fallen in love”, but a new North Korean documentary suggests the leaders’ relationship is strong enough to survive last week’s doomed summit in Vietnam.
In keeping with the rest of the regime’s post-talks coverage, the film makes no mention of the summit’s premature end, the countries’ irreconcilable differences over sanctions or their conflicting accounts of why the US president and the North Korean leader parted without an agreement.
Instead the film, which aired on state TV on Wednesday night, shows Kim and Trump smiling and shaking hands as they strolled in the gardens of the Metropole hotel in Hanoi and notes that they agreed to “sit face to face more often” and would continue “constructive dialogue”.
Describing the summit as “yet another meaningful incident on the issue of world peace”, the narrator says the US and North Korea “can overcome twists and turns and ordeals and go forward if both sides make fair proposals based on principles that are mutually accepted and respected, and engage in negotiations with the right attitude and willingness to resolve problems.”
The benign portrayal of Trump is a far cry from the routine demonisation of US leaders – along with their South Korean and Japanese allies – that was once the stock in trade of North Korean propaganda.
Even as reports emerged that the regime was rebuilding parts of a rocket launch site it had previously promised to dismantle, the film’s tone suggests Kim holds out hope of striking a deal.
Predictably, much of the 75-minute documentary is devoted to burnishing Kim’s credentials as a statesman. He is shown travelling by train through southern China to Vietnam, waving from his black limousine as drives along a Hanoi street lined with people waving North Korean and Vietnamese flags, and taking a group photo with emotional North Korean embassy officials and their families. It ends with his return, 11 days later, to cheering crowds in Pyongyang.
The documentary makers also display a talent for biting satire. While the president and most of his entourage are shown smiling throughout, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton – who had angered Pyongyang by comparing North Korea to Libya – is shown wearing an expression suggesting he would rather be anywhere but Hanoi.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report