The DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, center right, and Vietnam's President Nguyen Phu Trong, center left, attend a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 1, 2019. (LUONG THAI LINH / POOL PHOTO VIA AP)
HANOI, Vietnam — A day after his stunning summit breakdown with US President Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), smiled broadly as he strode down a red carpet with Vietnam's president Friday, a military band playing as stiff-backed soldiers goose-stepped by.
With Trump back in Washington, and both countries spinning their version of what happened during one of the most high-profile diplomatic collapses in recent years, Kim seemed confident and poised — a world leader taking his place on the international stage — as he stepped out of his armored limousine, embraced President Nguyen Phu Trong, the country's top leader and Communist Party chief, and accepted a bouquet of flowers from a beaming girl.
The motorcade of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un is driven in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 1, 2019. (GEMUNU AMARASINGHE / AP)
On Saturday he is expected to be driven back to the border with China where he will board his armored train for a 60-plus-hour trip, through the sprawl of China, back home to Pyongyang, the DPRK's capital. But Friday saw his black limousine rolling beneath fluttering Vietnamese and DPRK flags — the US ones have been mostly taken down — as a large crowd jammed the city's streets and waved flowers.
Talks between Kim and Trump broke down on Thursday, the second day of their two-day summit, in a dispute over how much sanctions relief Washington should provide Pyongyang in return for nuclear disarmament steps. Despite a senior DPRK official's suggestion that Kim may have "lost the will" for diplomacy, the DPRK leader seems to have emerged from the diplomatic wreckage as a winner.
DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, left, shakes hands with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong before their bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam Friday, March 1, 2019. (NOEL CELIS / POOL PHOTOS VIA AP)
Kim stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Trump at the summit, an image that allows his propaganda services to portray him to his people and supporters as the leader of a nuclear-armed power. He answered questions with humor and ease when confronted by an aggressive international media contingent here.
HONG KONG NEWS