By George Thomas Clark
I switched on the cassette recorder to hear the voice give instructions on his next assignment: “Good morning, Mr. Clark. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves entering the mind of Kim Yong-Chol. The North Korean official has served three generations of the Kim dynasty and in recent months emerged one of the most powerful figures in Kim Jong-Un’s regime. Kim Yong-Chol is preparing the ground for his leader’s summit meeting with President Donald Trump in Singapore. We do not have a clue what he has under his sleeve. As always, should you or any member of your team be caught or killed, the Secretary of State will disavow any knowledge of your action.”
A week later, after my success in entering the mind of the North Korean official, here is his report in his own words:
“In a Chinese airliner I flew to New York where atop a beautiful skyscraper my aide and I dined with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Andrew Kim, America’s purported expert in all matters North Korean and a man whose real name isn’t Andrew Kim. As my nation’s preeminent intelligence and security expert, and to date a wily survivor of three generations of leadership by the Kims, I distrust hawkish Pompeo and devious Andrew Kim as much as they doubt me, but those feelings don’t matter. I was there to prepare Pompeo, and I had a photo op with Donald Trump, who is to meet my Leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore.
“That was a wonderful place to talk. I saw Central Park and the Statue of Liberty and, I confess, feel the power of the United States. I think that’s why the location was chosen; but my hosts didn’t find me in awe. I had a very good time. Pompeo and Andrew Kim are fine dinner companions. And the food was delicious: spring pea salad with cheese and shaved crudité followed by filet mignon and fancy corn and spinach and topped off by chocolate soufflé with homemade vanilla ice cream.
“I’m so glad President Trump realized he made a mistake in cancelling the summit. He no doubt listened to the bellowing of John Bolton. We responded to Trump with kindness; and he promptly announced the meeting was back on and said, ‘I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial nation one day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me. It will happen.’
“In order for the United States to make it happen (assuming our adversary really wants it to and is able to deliver our great future), we in North Korea are expected to forget 70 years of hostility and threats and sanctions, and surrender nuclear weapons essential to our survival. In frankness, I do not believe the Americans would keep their promises once we buried our deterrent. I think they’d be poised to decapitate us.
“So the world wonders what I said to Mike Pompeo. And hopes that my Leader Kim Jong Un has already agreed to denuclearize and won’t ask much of the United States in return, such as withdrawing all its soldiers from the Korean Peninsula and keeping its airplanes and warships away from our borders and our skies. We won’t dare move too fast. Whatever happens will happen in stages. If the Americans leave and quit threatening us, we may be able to work something out. But everyone must be patient.”