'Shaking The Hand Of Peace': Unpacking Trump's North Korea Movie Trailer A four-minute fake movie trailer created by the Trump administration for Kim Jong Un is decidedly odd. Culture critic Glen Weldon asks National Security Correspondent David Welna what it all means.
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'Shaking The Hand Of Peace': Unpacking Trump's North Korea Movie Trailer

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'Shaking The Hand Of Peace': Unpacking Trump's North Korea Movie Trailer

'Shaking The Hand Of Peace': Unpacking Trump's North Korea Movie Trailer

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/619521665/619672980" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Toward the end of the summit in Singapore, President Trump showed Chairman Kim Jong Un a video created by White House staff.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He looked at that iPad and I'm telling you, they really enjoyed it, I believe.

CORNISH: It's now posted on the White House Facebook page and kind of looks like a trailer for a movie that does not exist. The message - North Korea can choose future prosperity or nuclear weapons but not both. It was an unconventional thing to do at a summit. So unconventionally, we invited our national security correspondent David Welna and culture critic Glen Weldon to offer their observations.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: Hey, David.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Hey, Glen.

WELDON: So this video is, I think it's safe to say, unsubtle.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Seven billion people inhabit planet Earth.

WELDON: Here's what it looks like - a bunch of stock footage of at first very positive things - clouds, orchestra, a little girl in a wheat field, Machu Picchu, for some reason.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: A new story, a new beginning.

WELDON: A then it's contrasted with images that we are to infer would result if Kim made the wrong choice - an empty grocery store, an abandoned bike, American missiles launching.

WELNA: This really is kind of a storybook fable. It shows both Trump and Kim in very commanding poses. And then it holds out this glorious ending.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: One moment, one choice - what if? The future remains to be written.

WELDON: So we should talk a little bit about where it came from.

WELNA: Right. It's labeled as coming from Destiny Pictures. But that's actually a production company in Los Angeles that had nothing to do with it. In fact, it was the National Security Council that finally admitted having commissioned this film. Exactly who made it, we still don't know.

WELDON: So can we look at this and glean anything at all from the Trump administration's mindset in kind of creating this video?

WELNA: Well, you know, I think Trump the developer really comes out here. He, in fact, made a video a few years ago with his children Ivanka and Eric selling the Trump Tower in Manila. And what you hear from that video really is kind of a rough draft of what we heard from Singapore.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

IVANKA TRUMP: The architecture is exquisite, the interior design...

ERIC TRUMP: Very tall, very chic.

D. TRUMP: This is going to be something that people love, that people respect as a structure.

WELDON: Yeah, it does sound a lot like that real estate marketing video because speaking as a film critic now, it doesn't really feel too much like a trailer that's been made in the last 10 years. We've lost that voice of God narrator in trailers for a long time.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: It comes down to a choice on this day, in this time, at this moment.

WELDON: You know, it's very bombastic language, like the light of prosperity and innovation has burned bright and there are doors of opportunity.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Will he shake the hand of peace?

WELDON: It's propaganda, not really a film trailer.

WELNA: But it's also, I think, something that we might call psyops, psychological operations. This was something that was done in the military and intelligence for many years, showing selected images and information to influence emotions, objective reasoning and ultimately decision-making in the people who see these things. Now, whether Kim might be swayed by all this is quite another question. Just last month, his government put out a statement saying the U.S. was trumpeting economic compensation if North Korea abandoned its nukes.

And it then said we have never had any expectation of U.S. support in carrying out our economic construction and will not make such a deal in the future either.

WELDON: OK, so what is next? Is this a one-off thing that they did or is this a trend? Are we looking at trailers for trade tariffs, the movie or tax reform, too?

WELNA: Or perhaps a longer title - Mr. Mueller, the time has come to choose between a witch hunt and a full and total clearing of my name.

WELDON: There you go.

WELNA: That's NPR culture critic Glen Weldon and national security correspondent David Welna.

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