Faux trailer promises prosperity in the North

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Faux trailer promises prosperity in the North


U.S. President Donald Trump’s video to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un begins with “Destiny Pictures Presents.” [SCREEN CAPTURE]

It was one of many idiosyncrasies from an unconventional summit. During a meeting between American and North Korean officials, U.S. President Donald Trump showed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a four-minute video filled with flashy visuals, quick cuts and a deep voiceover urging an unnamed protagonist to make the right decision for his people.

The faux movie trailer begins with the words “A Destiny Pictures Production,” but the company supposedly responsible for it denies having any role in its making. “We had nothing to do with Singapore video,” Mark Castaldo, founder of the real-life Destiny Pictures, wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday. “Woke up to 100’s of e-mails and calls from all over the world. Crazy.”

The video was shown to Kim, first in Korean and then in English, on an iPad and “a cassette” according to Trump. The video begins with an over-the-top narration: “Seven billion people inhabit planet Earth. Of those alive today, only a small number will leave a lasting impact.” Footage of Trump speaking at the UN General Assembly and Kim waving and smiling runs over the narration.

“History is always evolving, and there comes a time when only a few are called upon to make a difference,” the narrator continues as clips of Kim waving and Trump delivering the State of the Union address flash across the screen. The bricolage of a video also contains stock footage of missile launches, as well as one inexplicable scene of a basketball dunk, possibly a tribute to Kim’s known fascination with the sport.

“What will he choose,” the narrator says, “to show vision, leadership, or not? There can only be two results: one of moving back” - at this point missiles fly across the screen and a jet takes off - “or one of moving forward,” represented by satellite imagery of North Korea lighting up at night.

When asked about the video during a news conference after the summit, Trump said, “We had it made up. I hope you liked it. I showed it to him [Kim] today, actually during the meeting towards the end of the meeting, and I think he loved it.”

The National Security Council owned up to creating the video but was mum on why it attributed it to Destiny Pictures, though it was likely a hokey metaphor that unintentionally referred to a real-life company.

“The video was created by the NSC to help the President demonstrate the benefits of complete denuclearization, and a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula,” Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesman, said in a statement.

Analysts who watched the video read intentions of the Trump administration to turn North Korea into a real estate opportunity.

“This is exactly the kind of video a real estate developer shows to prospective clients,” Jon Wolfsthal, a scholar of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Guardian on Tuesday. “It is clear the president is using what he knows as he pursues his agenda. That seems natural.”

During the news conference, Trump did mention the possibility of building condos on North Korean beaches. “You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, ‘Boy, look at the view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?’”

Others called the video idiosyncratic. “Will it have any impact?” Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korean studies professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, told The New York Times. “Most likely, this patronizing act will give Kim a good laugh. It may also irritate and, paradoxically, reassure him at the same time - in the knowledge that his two adversaries are utterly clueless.”

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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