North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walks to greet Donald Trump at the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019. 
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

After visiting North Korea, Trump says he won’t visit North Korea

Updated

A South Korean newspaper reported yesterday that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un invited Donald Trump to Pyongyang as a way to restart failing nuclear talks. A reporter asked Trump yesterday whether the report was accurate.

“I don’t want to comment on that,” the American president replied. “The relationship is very good, but I don’t want to comment on it.”

A moment later, Trump was asked whether he’d be willing to go to North Korea. The Republican added:

“Probably not. I don’t think it’s ready. I don’t think we’re ready for that. I would do it sometime at – sometime at a later future. And depending on what happens, I’m sure he’ll love coming to the United States also. But, no, I don’t think it’s ready for that. I think we have a ways to go yet.”

Not to put too fine a point on this, but didn’t Trump already go to North Korea?

The rogue nuclear state may not be “ready” to welcome a sitting American president to North Korean soil, but it was just a few months ago when Trump nevertheless walked through the demilitarized zone and made a spectacle of a stroll alongside his dictatorial pal.

The New York Times reported in July, “In another administration, such a move might have been deliberated for weeks, put through an interagency process and approved only as part of a comprehensive approach to pressuring North Korea into giving up its nuclear program – a reward for progress. Mr. Trump himself had previously been talked out of just such a move by cautious advisers. But this time he could not resist the idea of a showy ‘first,’ whether it fit a long-term strategy or not.”

He couldn’t even tell the truth at the time about how the events unfolded:

In creating his preferred version of the story, Mr. Trump said he just came up with the idea when he woke up in Osaka on Saturday morning and spontaneously posted the message on Twitter. It was true that he caught his aides off guard, forcing them to scramble to see if a tweet could be turned into reality.

But it was not true that he just thought of it Saturday morning. He had talked about it at least five days earlier with journalists for The Hill news organization, which was then asked by the White House not to reveal that out of security concerns.

As with so many things, that reality did not fit neatly into the story line Mr. Trump was fashioning, so it was disregarded.

It was a made-for-TV spectacle that gave Kim Jong-un a boost with the kind of legitimizing moment his father and grandfather craved, and in exchange, Trump got nothing – except the ability to say he did something others hadn’t done.

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell spoke at the time to Victor Cha, a Georgetown professor and NBC News expert on the Korean peninsula, who said Trump meeting Kim on North Korean soil was like having the Super Bowl when you haven’t played a single game: a meeting like this would be expected as the culmination of a successful diplomatic process, not in lieu of diplomatic progress.

Trump did it anyway, because he thought it would look cool on television.

Now he doesn’t think it’d be appropriate to go to North Korea? Maybe Trump should’ve thought of that before he went to North Korea?