According to a report from the Washington Post on Friday that cited two people familiar with preparations, North Korea, a proud-yet-impoverished country, may need another country to cover the costs of its supreme leader’s hotel stay at The Fullerton, an expensive five-star hotel in Singapore.
The U.S. is reportedly trying to figure out how to discreetly pick up the tab without insulting the easily-agitated North Koreans.
The president, on the other hand, is expected to stay at the Shangri-La during the highly anticipated summit.
Paying Kim’s hotel bill is one of several important matters being discussed by the U.S. and North Korean teams in Singapore — teams led by White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin and Kim’s de facto chief of staff, Kim Chang Son. The cost of a presidential suite at The Fullerton can run as much as $6,000 a night, The Post reported.
The need for such discretion is unusual, given that the North Koreans have a history of demanding other countries foot the bill for its participation in international events.
During the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, Seoul agreed to spend $2.6 million to cover the costs of North Korea’s participation — not for the athletes but rather for the North’s massive collection of cheerleaders.
For the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, South Korea reportedly paid North Korea $500 million to come to the table.
North Korea “constantly couples its diplomacy with demands for aid, especially cash, as though the international community has to pay for the privilege of engaging,” Robert Kelly, professor of international relations at Pusan National University in South Korea, told The Washington Post during the Olympics.
Do you think the United States should pay for Kim’s hotel stay?
Apparently, the upcoming summit is no different, although the cost of the hotel is significantly lower, making such a payment less of a concession but still a problem.
As North Korea is heavily sanctioned for its illicit weapons programs, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control would need to issue a waiver to temporarily suspend the application of sanctions for such payments to be possible.
There is also the possibility the U.S. will ask the host country to cover the costs.
Much uncertainty has surrounded the Trump-Kim summit this past week, but it seems that the summit is almost definitely going to occur.
In response to several North Korean statements critical of the U.S. and the present administration, Trump canceled the planned summit with Kim on May 24. Since then, both sides have engaged in serious talks to salvage the meeting.
Following a visit to the White House by North Korean senior official Kim Yong Chol, who delivered a letter to Trump from his head of state, the president announced the summit is back on for June 12.
In addition to the logistical issues to sort out before the summit, the matter of denuclearization remains the biggest challenge of all.