About the Authors
Jeongmin Kim is a correspondent at NK News, based in Seoul. She previously worked for the CSIS Korea Chair and in the Seoul bureau of Reuters news agency. Follow her on Twitter @jeongminnkim
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to deliver a personal birthday greeting to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on his behalf, a top official from Seoul’s Blue House said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters at Incheon airport on his return from a visit to Washington DC, director of South Korea’s National Security Office (NSO) Chung Eui-yong said that the note had since been delivered to the North via the “appropriate method.”
“January 8 was Chairman Kim’s birthday and President Trump, giving well-wishing remarks on [that occasion], requested that it would be nice if President Moon could convey that message to Chairman Kim,” Chung, who met with Trump at the oval office on Wednesday, said.
Kim Jong Un turned 36 on Wednesday, though North Korea did not publicly comment on the occasion in its state media.
The birthday note from Trump, should it be confirmed, represents the first publicly-confirmed contact between the two leaders since August, when the U.S. President said he had received a “small apology” from Kim for a series of missile tests by Pyongyang.
It also comes following a prolonged period of diplomatic stalemate by Washington and Pyongyang, with the DPRK leader having earlier in the month hinted at a return to long-range missile and nuclear testing.
Trump has throughout that impasse, however, continued to emphasize his good relationship with Kim and his belief that the DPRK leader committed to denuclearization at their first summit in Singapore in 2018.
“He likes me, I like him, we get along … he’s representing his country, I’m representing my country, we have to do what we have to do,” he told reporters on New Year’s eve, just hours after Kim was reported to have warned that the country may soon test a new “strategic” weapon.
“But he did sign a contract, he did sign an agreement talking about denuclearization… That was done in Singapore, and I think he’s a man of his word, so we’re going to find out.”