Bob Franken


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Does Kim Jong Un tweet? Is there an @realKimJongUn on Twitter? Well, actually, there is, but it’s not @realKimJongUn for real; it’s satire. If Kim actually did have a handle, he’d probably have at least 25.5 million people who’d hang on his every word. Or be hanged. That’s the population of North Korea, and it certainly would be mandatory, were it not for the fact that most of his people don’t have electricity.
By comparison, President Donald Trump’s personal account has 52 million-plus followers, to say nothing of the millions more who read his variety of other anti-social media posts.
Not that Kim’s people are luddites; they have put together one of the world’s most aggressive hacking operations. But no Twitter. As least as far as we know.
That might explain why Kim ordered that a letter be hand-delivered to the White House the other day, although no one revealed what its contents were, nor why it was so large. When Trump raised it for photographers, it looked like he was holding an envelope with a fake newspaper inside. He jokingly tried to sell it to reporters, saying: “How much? How much? How much?” At least I think it was a joke.
Perhaps it contained a list of demands from Pyongyang — not what it would take for North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal, but what Kim’s delegation will require for travel arrangements. Not only what but, apparently, who’s going to pay for the hotel, the planes, the food, the night clubbing and everything else that the large North Korea entourage might need.

This is a sensitive subject for a country so poor that it can’t afford the trip to Singapore without assistance, where it’s leaders’ expense accounts don’t even measure up to those of reporters or the army of U.S. experts and all the security. Thank heaven Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt isn’t attending. His lavish arrangements easily could become a diplomatic incident, even though they’d be privately financed by some of the same energy lobbyists he relies on now.
But in Singapore, somebody, somehow will have to camouflage the fact that the North Korean summiteers’ excursion is being financed by others — specifically, the United States. That will take a bit of perfectly legal money laundering. Some friendly government or governments will have to foot the bill. But, to paraphrase Harry Truman, there is no such thing as a free junket.
That will mean some sort of creative quid pro quo. Just a suggestion, but maybe the nation that does pay the bill can fund the North Koreans in Singapore in return for a ton of complimentary stays here in D.C. at the Trump International Hotel, otherwise known as the Washington Emolument (a little constitutional humor). It’s a shame that there is no Trump hotel in Singapore, but perhaps he can do a little scouting while he’s there. The North Koreans seem to prefer the Fullerton, which is a tad more luxurious than anything back home, but hey, if someone else is picking up the check, let it all hang out. Just ask Scott Pruitt. The presidential suite at the Fullerton goes for $6,000 a night, by the way, but Kim needs to travel in the style he’s not accustomed to.
He should be used to charity. South Korea and the International Olympic Committee arranged to pick up his tab for the Winter Olympics, which got the ball rolling. His country may be destitute, but Kim Jong Un knows how to throw its weight around. It’s really simple: Develop a nuclear arsenal and threaten to blow the world to smithereens. Presto! You get a plush family vacation.
The question is whether it will be worth the investment and actually will end up removing the North Korea nuclear threat. Perhaps relative prosperity will persuade Kim, and eventually he can pay for his own travel. And tweet about it.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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