Well, the Singapore Summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Party Chairman Kim Jong-un is on track, scheduled for June 12th. The summit will be one that is enshrined in the annals of history, as it is expected that Kim will formally agree to denuclearization upon meeting face-to-face with the American president.
With the meeting less than two weeks away, it’s safe to assume much of the logistics are set. President Trump will surely be boarding the Air Force One, landing in Singapore’s Changi Airport at an undisclosed time. While the public isn’t privy to information regarding where, exactly, the meeting will go down, popular opinion puts smart money on one of Singapore’s many five-star hotels as the most likely destination. Regardless of how Kim reaches Singapore – his train won’t be an option on this rare foreign trip not destined for China – he will have plenty of Bordeaux to keep him loose. Whether Kim breaks out the casual wear or goes with garb more traditional for the glorious leader of North Korea, he has plenty of options to choose from.
When it comes to such a historic affair, few details will be left to chance. But some details still need to be hammered out.
Namely, who is going to foot the bill for Kim Jong-un’s $6,000 dollar per night suite at Singapore’s five-star Fullerton Hotel. The presidential suite at the Fullerton spans over 2,100 square feet, is furnished with a baby grand piano (no word on if Kim prefers Beethoven or Chopin) contains a glass-enclosed veranda, two separate bedrooms, a private study, living and dining rooms, and a walk-in closet.
It even has a Nespresso coffee machine. We’re talking top of the top of the line here.
The prideful leader of the Hermit Kingdom will come to the negotiating table, potentially even give up his nukes. But don’t ask him to pay for his presidential suite. Because, apparently, he can’t. Kim might be rich in terms of free labor to build a nuclear program, but he’s pleading cash-poverty.
One would think that Kim could pay for his own hotel. Some concessions – perhaps the Governor Suite might be more fitting to his budget? – might make it self-financing more realistic. Surely, if Kim was determined to pay for his hotel room, he could. Presumably, he’s paying for the travel. He’s found a way to finance his taste for fine wines over the years, assuming those expensive bottles of Cabernet and Merlot aren’t all courtesy of friends in high places.
But, Kim is crying poor. Lodging isn’t the only expense he’s hoping to put on another company’s credit card.
‘The North Korean delegation may also need to travel on a plane provided by another country, the newspaper reported.’ (The Hill)
Realistically, even North Korea’s most powerful man can’t afford to spend frivolously. The country has reportedly resorted to selling its much-needed electricity to China for $60,000 to $100,000 per month, relative pennies as far as government spending goes.
Plus, it’s unlikely that the governments of the United States and South Korea would risk denuclearizing North Korea over a few thousand dollars, or even a few hundred thousand dollars, if it comes to it. Kim knows this; it’s why he’s not requesting a room at the Motel 6. He’s going to get his way, and President Trump is reportedly happy to oblige, or have his ally – reportedly Singapore – cover the costs.
It’s not a bribe. It’s the cost of doing business with a notoriously stingy, unpredictable nation which, not too long ago, seemed on a path towards imminent nuclearization.
Trump seems happy enough.
“We’re going to be June 12 — we’ll be in Singapore. It’ll be a beginning,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn, adding, “I think we’re going to have a very positive result in the end.”
After all, it’s not as if Kim’s shakedown was completely unexpected. For all the reported about-facing that North Korea engages in – regarding charity as an insult while holding their hands out – they have a history of offering their presence at international meetings and events so long as the other party is willing to pay.
South Korea spent a reported $2.6 million in expenses related to North Korea’s presence at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. When the former U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, took a trip to North Korea as part of a prisoner retrieval in 2015, he was bestowed with a lavish, 12-course meal, only to be told after consuming said meal that, yes, he would in fact have to pay for it.
Rest assured that Kim’s hotel room, and whatever else he undoubtedly chooses to smuggle from the minibar, will be paid for, and not by Kim. The American government has to be careful not to run afoul of Treasury rules, as the vultures are always on watch for the slightest misstep.
‘Meanwhile, if the US ends up paying the bill it will only add to Trump's already long list of questionable fund flows as any payment for North Korean’s accommodations would run afoul of Treasury Department sanctions, according to Elizabeth Rosenberg, a former Treasury official. The transaction would require the Office of Foreign Assets Control to “temporarily suspend the applicability of sanctions” through a waiver, she told the WaPo.’
The president’s lawyers and advisers know this, and will make sure that the cost of Kim’s room and board – not to mention all the Snickers, Sun Chips, hotel wine his heart desires – are paid for via legal means.
They’ll let Kim enjoy his few days sleeping on the finest linens and sipping on $20 travel-sized bottles of travel liquor. It’s all a bargain if the result is North Korea genuinely agreeing to denuclearize.