Coming Attractions: Trump Showed Kim a Faux Movie Trailer About a Transformed North Korea

Coming Attractions: Trump Showed Kim a Faux Movie Trailer About a Transformed North Korea


“And I explained, I said, ‘You know, instead of doing that, you could have the best hotels in the world right there.’ Think of it from a real estate perspective.”

Mark McKinnon, a seasoned political ad maker who ran media for President George W. Bush’s campaigns, said the video was “obviously quite shlocky” for a broader audience, but could be effective in influencing its intended target.

“At bottom, it’s very good storytelling — something obviously Trump understands,” Mr. McKinnon said. Citing the former governor of Texas ousted by Mr. Bush, he added: “Ann Richards used to say, ‘Dumb it down so my mama can understand it.’ Or you know, so a foreign dictator can. Over all, a pretty creative and clever move.”

But veteran diplomats and foreign policy scholars were warier. “I was speechless when I first saw it,” said Alexander R. Vershbow, who served as ambassador to South Korea under Mr. Bush. “Pure Trump with Hollywood production values, showing what Kim Jong-un and North Korea would be like if they make the fateful choice to trade in their nukes for economic prosperity.”

Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korean studies professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, was even less impressed, calling it “eerily reminiscent of second-rate South Korean government promotional videos.” In fact, although the White House said it was made by the National Security Council, she said she instinctively suspected the South Koreans might have created it and gave it to Mr. Trump.

“Will it have any impact?” she asked. “Most likely, this patronizing act will give Kim a good laugh. It may also irritate and, paradoxically, reassure him at the same time — in the knowledge that his two adversaries are utterly clueless.”

Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said he thought it would fall flat. “I was gobsmacked by it,” he said. “It seems unlikely that a man who ruthlessly ordered the murder of his half brother with a nerve agent is likely to be beguiled by a film trailer and decide to abandon the nuclear-armed missiles that are a centerpiece of his propaganda.”



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