Kim wants denuclearization, not Trump

Kim wants denuclearization, not Trump

Federico Germani

Federico Germani

Federico is a bioethicist and molecular biologist at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His research focuses on the influence of misinformation on public health. He explores strategies to enhance public resilience against misinformation, with a strong emphasis on risk and crisis communication, trust-building, information and media literacy. Federico is the founder and director of Culturico.

This is a commentary article of: “North Korea’s simple strategies confuse media and political analysts

In a previous article I have suggested how the North Korean regime, currently led by Kim Jong-un, has built a nuclear arsenal as a realist tool to pursue a self-help strategy with the purpose of maintaining power and leading to a relief of international sanctions.
Once the article had been published on Culturico’s Facebook page, it received a great number of interesting but misleading comments. In order to discuss the issue, the original Facebook post is attached here:

The attention grabbing headline “Kim changed his international image from an irrational dictator to a politician with a sense for diplomacy. How did this happen?” unwittingly spurred a series of comments from users (who clearly did not read the article), trying to answer the headline question. The majority of these comments indicated Trump as the protagonist of Kim’s behavioral shift, as shown below in a few examples:


Screenshot 2018-11-22 13.15.25

Screenshot 2018-11-22 13.16.40

Screenshot 2018-11-22 13.16.59

Trump did not transform Kim’s image from the one of a dictator to one of a diplomatic, peaceful and presidential leader. Rather, Kim and his predecessors strategically built a bargaining power in response to the unpredictable and contradictory behavior of the USA in recent history, which on other occasions led to the deposition of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the removal of Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya or the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Although we cannot exclude that Trump himself has achieved his personal objective by paving the way for denuclearization in the Korean peninsula, he is certainly not to be praised for having started the discussion with Kim.
Indeed, the initial proposal of a meeting came from Kim, not from Trump. This point is critically important to understand why Kim himself, and not Trump, provoked the shift of his international reputation. The leadership of North Korea, if not by following the basic teachings of political realism, would not have otherwise sent an invitation to initiate a peace process, just after having demonstrated the potential capability to strike nuclear weapons on American’s soil.
The warmonger Kim Jong-un was not “brought to heel” by Trump. Rather, to avoid being “big-dogged”, he developed the same simple strategy that dogs use when they want to appear bigger in front of big dogs: they urinate higher on trees (1). Kim sent a few ballistic missiles over Japan, in order to say: “I can hit you and your allies, if I really want. Now let us talk peace, knowing that I am a bit more prepared for war than before”.


Federico Germani



  1. McGuire, B. et al., “Urine marking in male domestic dogs: honest or dishonest?, Journal of Zoology”, 2018.
Received: 07.11.2018, Ready: 16.11.2018, Editors: SR, RG.

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