Disneyland Pyongyang? Can Trump Co-Opt Kim?
One of the pleasures for many -- except, of course, for the Deep State and the media -- of the Trump presidency is the way Donald flouts [corrected] conventional wisdom. Now, if we are to believe Axios, he is taking a unique approach to the imminent negotiations with Kim Jong-un.
- Part of Trump's expected message is telling Kim how much wealthier he and his people would be if he were engaged with the U.S. A source familiar with the U.S. preparations says Trump likes the idea of iconic American businesses, like McDonald's, eventually getting to North Korea.
- Trump will insist that the price of engagement — and modern relationships and amenities — is the start of a denuclearization process, a source close to the White House told Axios.
McDonald's? I'm not sure the American College of Cardiology would approve. But there are other more heart-healthy blandishments like, say, Disneyland Pyongyang!
Who could resist that? Well, we'll see. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I eat more than my share of Big Macs.)
Nevertheless, Trump's madness has a method and not just because of Dennis Rodman's well-known bromance with Kim. Think back to the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures by North Korean (most probably government) hackers under the moniker "Guardians of Peace," aka "#GOP."
Those hackers had a remarkably clear vision of the Hollywood gestalt and were able to expose the supposedly liberal studio execs as closet racists. Did that sting! (They had to run to @TheRevAl -- America's favorite hypocrite -- for absolution.)
The NORKs' attack was superficially aimed at preventing the premiere of a forthcoming Sony comedy called The Interview about an assassination attempt on Kim. But the hackers' specific knowledge of Tinseltown -- how it works, especially from that far distance -- was also a demonstration of an overweening fascination with American popular culture. It was in the grand tradition of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, knowing and then becoming your enemy. And why would they care about some dumb Hollywood movie in the first place?
This speaks to what Trump is attempting. A creature of popular culture himself, he knows its allure and how to utilize it. Whether he will succeed is anybody's guess, but it is a different way of dealing in international diplomacy and more than worth trying. Perhaps he should bring along a bag of Big Macs and some fries to the negotiation.
Okay, maybe not, but the underpinnings of all this are not new. Those of us old enough to remember recall the subversive nature of American culture during Soviet times, clandestine jazz concerts in Moscow boîtes, hidden screenings of certain movies, samizdat publication of forbidden novels, etc. Everybody wanted it, even, apparently, General Secretary Andropov.
The same undoubtedly goes on in North Korea. Of course, Kim gets everything he wants personally from the West, so the question becomes: Does he care enough about his people? Who knows -- but probably not. Nevertheless, the globe is shrinking and as contacts continue many in that dark land -- not just those nosing around Sony Pictures -- are getting more extensive knowledge of the world outside. They certainly are aware life is better in their sister state to the South where Samsungs hang on every wall, Hyundais clog the streets, and bulgogi grills are on every corner.
Kim has to please his people too at some point, give them their own Disneyland. After all, Shanghai got theirs two years ago. Suppression clearly still works, as in China, but it needs to be modulated to survive.
Does Kim know that? Or more specifically, if he knows it, is he willing to denuclearize and move North Korea from a scary totalitarian dictatorship that starves its own people á la Stalin to a slightly more open, but still somewhat scary, totalitarian dictatorship á la Xi Jinping? (We can't hope for more at this moment.)
Donald Trump is our tribune to find out. No one I can think of would be better. Those who -- either openly or in their hearts -- are rooting against his success deserve our eternal contempt.
Roger L. Simon - PJ Media Co-Founder and CEO Emeritus - is a novelist, screenwriter and columnist. Having moved to Nashville from Los Angeles, his next visit to Disneyland will probabl be Orlando.