Concerns of a PR coup for the DPRK underestimate how crucial leader-to-leader diplomacy really is.

You could hear the complaints almost before Trump and Kim had turned back around to face southward. “Meeting the leader of North Korea like this just gives him legitimacy”; “The U.S. President is legitimizing Kim Jong Un”; “Kim gets legitimacy while Trump just gets a photo op,” etc. etc.

This not-uncommon hot take has been rolled out before and after every Trump-Kim meeting. “Legitimacy” in these assertions might mean three things: one is dead wrong, one is slightly true, and the other is true. 

The main question is: “legitimacy for what audience?” 

Do these critics mean the domestic audience? If so, the idea that a U.S. president will be legitimizing the 70-year rule of the Kim family is manifestly silly.

Sure, DPRK state media will spin this meeting as a victory for Kim, validating his genius and personal abilities.

Kim is a global statesman now. An additional meeting with Trump does not change this fact.

Please click here to read the full “On “legitimacy”: Trump, Kim, and US-North Korea summitry” article published at NK News, written by Griffith Asia Institute Adjunct Research Fellow, Dr Andray Abrahamian.