Could Historic Summit End With Supreme Leader’s Assassination?
About a year ago, North Korea accused the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of attempting to assassinate its supreme leader Kim Jong-un.
The hermit state issued a statement that claimed that Americans had bribed a North Korean citizen to kill Mr Kim, 34.
Possible locations for the assassination?
The mausoleum where Mr Kim Jong-un’s father and grandfather lie, or at one of Pyongyang’s many military parades.
It’s easy to see why the North Koreans came to that conclusion about the CIA.
The agency has been associated with a long list of covert assassinations of political leaders – its name was floated at the death of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as well as a string of left-leaning leaders in the 1970s and 1980s.
And US-North Korea tensions were at an all-time high last year.
First there was the murder of Mr Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Then there was Mr Trump’s infamous “fire and fury” speech to the United Nations?
Given the history between the two states, it would be foolish for Mr Kim’s administration to take next week’s meeting with the Americans lightly.
Will Singapore save the day?
Making the 7-hour flight to Singapore in itself is a risk, since this would be the furthest Mr Kim has travelled since appointed Supreme Leader in 2011.
US officials believe Kim is extremely worried about security at the summit and is fearful of assassination attempts, according to two people familiar with the matter.
For its part, Singapore is doing its best to keep both Mr Kim and Mr Trump safe.
From snipers atop buildings to public security orders, we’re pulling out all the stops to ensure next week’s summit goes off without a hitch.
As AsiaOne put it,
Elite Singaporean police, including its Gurkha Contingent, will be securing the summit venue, roads and hotels, according to diplomats familiar with VIP security in the island state.
American power all around
But that appears to be not enough for Mr Kim for one simple reason.
Business Insider reports that Mr Kim is especially afraid of being assassinated on his way to Singapore.
And he has reason to be.
Just take a look at the map of the region:
These figures were reported by the BBC in 2012 but they gave a good indicator of the strength of the American military muscle in the Asia-Pacific region.
If American intelligence did want to take Mr Kim down, there’s no shortage of bases for them to operate out of.
The China syndrome
Mr Kim’s flight is likely to go overland over China as it approaches Singapore.
But the world’s most-populated nation appears to be salty about not being invited to the historic summit.
In an editorial this week, state mouthpiece Global Times wrote,
Without China, a peace declaration will never replace the Korean Armistice Agreement on the technical level.
The armistice ended hostilities between North and South Korea after the 3-year Korean War.
China was a signatory then, along with North Korea and the United States.
Could Chinese anger at not being invited prompt an assassination?
Will Kim Jong-nam’s killer return?
The identity of Mr Kim Jong-nam’s killer is still unknown.
Could he/she return to notoriety by pulling off an assassination of Mr Kim Jong-un?
Chemical weapons proved to be an effective killer the last time – something we’re not sure even the best security forces can protect the North Korean leader from.
An unlikely finale
It’s unlikely that months of talks between North Korea and the United States will end with Mr Kim’s assassination.
Still, if there’s one thing we can learn from history is to always expect the unexpected.
And if there’s one thing we can learn from Hollywood: if it happened in a movie, it could happen in real life.