중앙데일리

Trump fawns over Korean first lady

July 05,2019
U.S. President Donald Trump’s repeated praise for First Lady Kim Jung-sook during his recent visit to Korea has delighted the Blue House.

“Whenever he has phone conversation with President Moon Jae-in, President Trump always inquires after Kim,” Ko Min-jung, spokeswoman of the Blue House, said Tuesday in an interview with TBS radio. “Kim is an easy-going, down-to-earth first lady, and President Trump appeared to be fascinated by such character.”

At the beginning of the Korea-U.S. summit on Sunday at the Blue House, Trump praised Kim at length. After thanking Moon for hosting a dinner at the presidential compound on the previous night, Trump noted that the two leaders celebrated their friendship and the new bilateral trade deal that went effect in January - and flattered Kim.

“I also want to thank your First Lady,” Trump continued. “She has a tremendous spirit and vitality, and a tremendous love for your country. I said that to the President. First thing I said was how impressive the First Lady was, and - a great woman. A great woman. So I just hope you tell her that.”

Later in the day, when Moon and Trump addressed the press at a joint media conference, Trump also praised Kim.

“I want to start by just thanking President Moon and, very importantly, First Lady Moon, who’s a very special woman, a very special spirit,” he said. “She loves your country very much, as does President Moon.”

Kim, 64, is a classical singer who married Moon in 1981. The couple were university sweethearts.

She earned her nickname “Jolly Mrs. Jung-sook” for her cheerful personality and openness. After her husband won the 2017 election, she has asked people not to call her First Lady and has strived to become a presidential spouse who is more neighborly and approachable.

Ever since entering the Blue House, Kim has attended many events accompanying Moon, but she also hosts her own events, which often focus on culture and childcare.

When Moon hosted a welcome dinner for Trump on Saturday, Kim received the U.S. leader together with Moon. When they walked past the Blue House garden Nokjiwon to Sangchunjae, a traditional Korean building often used to host events for special guests, Kim and Trump also had a friendly chat.

According to the Blue House, Kim told Trump that U.S. First Lady Melania Trump is greatly missed because she had not joined the trip, and Trump reportedly replied that she would have liked to be here very much. After Moon and Trump took a photo, Kim was asked to join for another shot.

Trump also praised Kim at the dinner. He said his wife is a “tremendous fan” of Kim and he appreciated the passionate welcome to Korea.

“Kim is candid and friendly. She is also good at offering great, respectful hospitality,” Ko said in the TBS interview on Tuesday.

According to the Blue House, Trump has praised Kim ever since Moon’s first presidential visit to Washington in June 2017. When Trump and Moon had a summit at the White House Oval Office in April, the first ladies of the two countries accompanied them, which was an extremely rare event.

According to sources at the Blue House, Trump normally calls Kim “Mrs. Moon.”

A veteran politician on Thursday interpreted Trump’s extraordinary praise of Kim as a way of expressing his appreciation toward Moon.

In an interview with TBS Radio, Rep. Park Jie-won of the Party for Democracy and Peace said the meeting of the leaders between the two Koreas and Trump at the inter-Korean border on Sunday was “proof of the strong cooperation between Korea and the United States.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]


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