PANMUNJOM, NORTH KOREA (May 2018) — After a protracted will-they/won’t-they courtship on Twitter, President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un are at last meeting face to face. On the table are myriad issues: North Korea’s denuclearization, normalization of relations, easing sanctions. They are here in Panmunjom, the Truce Village. In one direction stands heavily industrialized and modern South Korea, one of the Four Tigers of Asia... and in the other direction, the Hermit Kingdom and all it entails: hereditary cult of personality tyranny, famine, labor camps. And yet, the land itself feels strangely peaceful, a topography at peace with itself and its history. Still, the vibe can only be realistically described as “hella spooky” as the United States delegation is brusquely escorted into the Peace House. President Trump smiles at everyone with his mouth closed.
As there is no Ambassador to North Korea and nobody in the White House knows much about it anyway, Trump has dragged along Ivanka and Jared Kushner. Rex Tillerson, the ousted Secretary of State, was invited to observe the summit in an unofficial capacity, so long as he left the room every five minutes clutching his stomach and screaming, “Diarrhea is normal! It is totally normal!!” The venal and corrupt oil man, who is at worth $300 million dollars, respectfully declined to be a prop in the president’s “passive aggressive revenge porn” and thus did not make the trip. Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s Senior Advisors, yearned to observe this milestone encounter personally, but he had prior obligations to be super racist domestically.
The North Koreans enter. Formalities are observed. Kim Jong-Un is much as you’d expect him. Rotund, poker-faced, bedecked his traditional black garb, his baggy trousers very much like Trump’s own anti-bespoke fit. The Supreme Leader and the former host of the fucking Apprentice shake hands vigorously, the fate of millions altered by the tenacity of their grips.
The Peace House is not much of a house. Essentially it is a room with one long table surrounded by powder blue walls. More lavish venues were floated for this momentous summit that most foreign policy experts have dubbed “Judgment Day.” These venues included Ulaanbaatar, Sweden, Switzerland, a sprawling plantation house in the American South haunted by the ghosts of Confederate soldiers, any old goddamn bordello, Snake Island, Aleppo, a mid-sized opium den, an abandoned factory controlled by feral cats in Detroit, the DMV, and of course, Washington, D.C. Ultimately, this small Potemkin village situated in the Joint Security Area was chosen for symbolic reasons—symbolic reasons largely lost on the American delegation, and indeed, most Americans, who let’s be real, know next to nothing about North Korea.
Trump doesn’t waste any time. He is a businessman after all, not a Washington insider. Yes, a mutated businessman who looks like Frankenstein’s monster received a brain transplant from Tucker Carlson and a voucher for a few Pygmalion sessions, but a businessman nonetheless. His opening remarks spill out of his gross pink mouth like an avalanche of tiny word garbage:
“I want to thank Mr. Kim for his hospitality. It’s inspiring, for me, to see how much his people love him. They love their leader. Trust me, it’s not a given. It’s not a given. In America, there are many people, mostly losers, but some good people also, who hate me for telling the truth. That’s the burden of being a great leader. I think Mr. Kim understands that.”
The words are duly translated and Kim Jong-Un beams, as if to say, Dude, this guy gets it. But Trump’s charm offensive is not over.
“I thought Team America was a shameful movie. Not funny. Believe me, if I could, I’d have it banned. The way they portrayed your father was sick. It was sick. Parts of the movie were funny, but the parts featuring your old man, those parts made me sick. I wanted to throw up.”
Trump suddenly giggles, remembering all the funny racist parts.
The Supreme Leader seems grateful for Trump’s solidarity. He asks about the possibility of easing unilateral sanctions should the North Koreans “begin to consider maybe the possibility of perhaps not developing nuclear weapons for now at least.”
“I fucking love eating bulgogi!” Jared Kushner abruptly shouts. His curiously deployed words fall flat, even as he doubles-down by loudly licking his lips for emphasis. “It’s so yummy in my little tummy.”
Ivanka very gracefully and with much elegance slaps the back of Jared’s head. He begins to suck his thumb, slowly at first, but progressively faster. Trump and Kim exchange a glance and roll their eyes in unison. There’s a Jared in every family.
“I just wanted to say,” Trump clears his throat for nearly a minute, “that Kim Jong-Un is a very, a very nice man who has done a lot, a lot, with limited resources. He reminds me of myself. Shorter of course, less tall, I’m very tall so it’s not insult. The world doesn’t want him to succeed. Well, I know the feeling. They all hated me, ganged up on me. But I destroyed them. Have you ever heard of this guy Jeb Bush? Disgusting. Intolerable. The only way to achieve your dreams is to destroy your enemies. I’ve always believed that and uh, so too does Mr. Kim.”
Kim Jong-Un nods.
“May I hug you?” Trump suddenly asks, never a huge stickler for protocol. Kim acquiesces. They hug and seem to melt into each other’s arms. It would feel organic and not at all strange, had the hug not persisted for forty-five seconds. They disentangle and resume their seats across from one another.
“Now let’s talk nukes,” Trump says, elbows firmly planted on the table. “No, nukes later. Nukes later. We’ll talk nukes later, after. Have you read Art of the Deal? It’s very much like your own The Art of War. Some say deals are war. Many people are saying it’s outsold the Bible in most countries. You know, it’s disgusting that Obama never apologized to the Chinese for the Opium Wars. That’s just the way he is.”
The Supreme Leader then claps his hands and a bottle of Hennessy appears on the table. Jared’s clawed hand instinctively darts out for the bottle but Ivanka tastefully pins his hand to the table then stylishly grabs his ear and twists it. Jared Kushner’s squeal sounds like nothing human. It is more akin to a dying walrus trying to suck its own dick during the last snowstorm of the year. Kim Jong-Un dips his head respectfully to Ivanka. The entire delegation gives Ivanka a round of applause.
“My father loved Hennessy,” Kim explains through his interpreter, pouring the People’s Booze into champagne flutes. “We will consecrate this new alliance with his favorite beverage.”
Trump does not typically drink alcohol as he has enough problems with his gross old body, but he’s so overcome with gratitude and emotion he politely sips. He nudges Ivanka. She nods and unveils a gift from America. She slides it across the table to Kim Jong-Un. The Supreme Leader’s eyes go wide.
It’s from Dennis Rodman, heretofore Kim’s only American friend. It is a mixtape. The first four songs are “Black” by Pearl Jam. The following song is “that one Shrek Song” by Smash Mouth, and the rest of the songs are once again “Black” by Pearl Jam. Kim puts the tape in his pocket, and continues sipping Hennessy. Soon Iranian caviar is on the table and then French cheese. The mood softens. Jared attempts to drop trow but Ivanka smashes a glass over his head.
In the next four minutes, Trump says the following to Kim Jong-Un:
“North Korea has better air than South Korea. That’s just the truth.”
“Water doesn’t even have a shape.”
“I like your pants. Very nice!”
“I want to have sex with Xi Jinping’s wife.”
[Ivanka rolls her eyes in delightful and chic embarrassment.]
“Japan does what I say. Don’t worry about Japan. You let me worry about Japan, Kimmy.”
“Yes, I’d love to visit Munsu Water Park tomorrow.”
“Waluigi. Yes, Waluigi.”
“Why do your generals have so many medals? What wars are they even fighting right now?”
“So, that’s what doggystyle is.”
“Labor camps? We will look into that but not make any decisions until we can figure out what’s going on. You know what, I’m sure it’s fine.”
The first bottle of Hennessy empty, a TV is rolled into the Peace Room. A stack of VHS films are displayed for the delegations to admire. I Love You, Man. Stir Crazy. White Men Can’t Jump. Midnight Run. Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
Films about... friendship. The lights dim.
Jared Kushner starts babbling about bibimbap but nobody is paying him any mind, especially not Ivanka. She and the rest of the room are concentrating fiercely on the pathos of Rush Hour 2. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un sit next to each other, guffawing, sharing a novelty sized bag of popcorn, yelling at the screen, high-fiving, low-fiving, fist-bumping, attempting decent Chris Tucker impressions. This feels like history. It’s like Nixon in China all over again, except far more important.
And then it’s over and both sides stumble their separate ways. Jared Kushner is weeping. Nobody knows why.