A harmless gift, or a careless insult? That’s the question on the internet’s mind after President Trump reportedly sent a CD containing Elton John’s classic song "Rocket Man" to North Korea as a gift for the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touched down in North Korea on Friday to “fill in some details” on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, which Kim agreed to during his summit with Trump last month.
Upon his arrival, however, Pompeo met with questions about a reported gift from Trump to Kim: an Elton John CD containing "Rocket Man," autographed by the president. The Chosun Ilbo, a top newspaper in South Korea, reported that Pompeo was instructed to give the CD to Kim as a reflection of “Trump’s expectations that Kim will follow through on the pledges” they agreed upon at the summit.
Before the two leaders civilly met in Singapore, Trump and Kim took turns exchanging insults; Trump’s favorite for Kim seemed to be “little rocket man.” He repeatedly used the term to describe the authoritarian leader.
During their visit, Trump reportedly discussed the famous song with Kim, according to the Chosun Ilbo. The paper quoted a diplomatic source saying the president asked Kim if he had ever heard "Rocket Man." Kim said no.
On Friday, Pompeo laughed off reporters’ questions about the CD, neither confirming or denying its existence, and no other media outlet has confirmed the gift.
Twitter, however, was quick to make “Rocket Man” and “Elton John” trending on the internet despite no U.S. confirmation. The reactions were mixed, but most people found the gift to be a joking matter — especially William Shatner. While some thought the president should have gifted Shatner's 1978 spoken-word cover of the song to the North Korean leader, the Star Trek actor was fine with John’s original version being given.
Elton John has not weighed in on the rumored gift, yet we can’t imagine he’d be happy with Trump’s use of his classic song in official world business. During Trump’s run for president in 2016, John was opposed to the then-candidate using his music at campaign rallies.
“I don’t really want my music to be involved in anything to do with an American election campaign. I’m British,” the singer told The Guardian that year. “I’ve met Donald Trump, he was very nice to me, it’s nothing personal, his political views are his own, mine are very different, I’m not a Republican in a million years.”
Though John hasn’t said anything, many of his fans chimed in on his behalf thinking he’d disapprove of the gift, while others simply thought the whole idea of a Trump-autographed "Rocket Man" CD was hilarious.