June 12, 2018 1:16 pm

Dictator’s day out: What Kim Jong Un revealed on his Singapore visit

North Korean President Kim Jong Un, surrounded by a coterie of bodyguards and world media, went on a walking tour of Singapore late Monday ahead of his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.


The Supreme Leader of North Korea is not above taking selfies.

Kim Jong Un, the brutal dictator of the so-called “Hermit Kingdom” of North Korea, posed for a selfie and took in the sights in Singapore this week, ahead of his historic meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The visit revealed new information about the reclusive leader, including a willingness to hit the town.

Story continues below

READ MORE: Trump, Kim commit to ‘complete denuclearization’ of Korean peninsula after historic summit

Although he was educated in Switzerland, the 34-year-old Kim hasn’t gotten out much since he assumed power in North Korea in 2011. He travelled to China twice and visited South Korea for the first time earlier this year, but his trip to Singapore is the farthest he’s been from his homeland during his reign.

A night on the town

Kim didn’t pass up the chance to go sightseeing with his entourage of stern-faced bodyguards Monday night in Singapore.

READ MORE: Asian leaders show cautious optimism after Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un meeting

Kim was accompanied by Singapore’s foreign affairs minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who posed for what’s believed to be the first selfie ever with the North Korean leader.

Balkrishnan posted the selfie online, along with a hashtag that translates as “out for a stroll.”

The photo was snapped at Gardens by the Bay, a tropical greenhouse that boasts the tallest indoor waterfall in the world.

Kim was also spotted visiting the glitzy, five-star Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino, which features a rooftop infinity pool.

READ MORE: North Korea state media plasters front pages with Kim Jong Un’s Singapore trip

A day in the spotlight

Kim’s summit with Trump offered observers a rare chance to see him outside the filter of North Korea’s media, which routinely presents him as a god-like figure.

READ MORE: ‘Two leaders, one destiny’: Trump courts Kim with fake movie trailer

Kim wore a dark, button-up Mao-style suit to the meeting with Trump, reflecting his country’s socialist roots. It was a standard look for Kim with one exception: he was not wearing a lapel pin depicting his father and grandfather. The pin is mandatory among the North Korean populace, although Kim has occasionally gone without it.

Seeing Kim next to Trump also provided a chance to guess at his height.

U.S. President Donald J. Trump (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) walk towards each other to shake hands at the start of a historic summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island, Singapore, June 12, 2018.


Kim stands about five feet eight inches, according to media reports, while Trump stands six feet three inches, according to the results of the president’s last physical. However, the two men did not appear to be seven inches apart in height when they stood next to each other.

READ MORE: Trump-Kim summit: 5 key moments you may have missed

South Korean media suggested Kim might have been wearing platform shoes to his meeting with Trump, so he would not appear small next to the president.

However, some cast doubt on the veracity of Trump’s height this week, after he  appeared to be shorter than six feet two inch Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a group photo taken at the Group of Seven summit.

South Korean media suggested Kim’s horn-rimmed glasses might point to nearsightedness caused by diabetes, which might have been brought on by Kim’s obesity.

Analysts are unlikely to learn much about Kim’s diet, because he travels with a personal toilet to prevent his enemies from obtaining any of his stool samples.

However, they can definitely conclude he is not a vegetarian, judging from the menu at the working lunch between his delegation and Trump’s. The menu included beef short rib confit, sweet and sour pork and codfish, with some Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream for desert.

It’s unclear when Kim will venture outside North Korea next, but it could be for a visit to the White House.

Trump said he would “absolutely” extend an invitation to Kim, although it will have to happen “at the appropriate time, a little bit further down the road.”

— With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.