Report: Kim may speak English in summit with Trump

By Jennie Oh  |  March 14, 2018 at 4:19 AM
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SEOUL, March 13 (UPI) -- Ahead of the upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, observers are wondering whether Kim will converse in English or Korean during the negotiation.

Some South Korean experts believe the 34-year-old leader is fluent in English as he was educated in Switzerland in his teenage years, at the International School of Berne from September 1998 to 2000.

His early education is not clearly known.

Kim is also on friendly terms with former NBA star Dennis Rodman who he reportedly communicates with in English.

If the young leader holds the summit with Trump in English, without the aid of a translator, the meeting could flow smoothly, Professor Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korea Studies told News 1.

"If Kim shows a strong command of English during the U.S.-North Korea summit, Trump is likely to be surprised," he said. "Conversing in his counterpart's language could help smoothen the atmosphere for negotiations."

Meanwhile, some say Kim's English isn't fluent enough for diplomatic talks and will need the help of an interpreter.

"Kim may have learned English during his studies abroad but he doesn't seem to be perfectly fluent," said Ahn Chan-il, a former North Korean military officer who defected to the South and is now President of the World Institute for North Korea Studies. "It's likely he will greet President Trump in English and use an interpreter for the meeting."

Meanwhile, preparations for the high-profile talks are underway in Washington, with the understaffed administration lacking an ambassador to South Korea as well as a special envoy for North Korea.

Officials have yet to determine the logistics of the meeting as well as more complicated issues such as the demands it will make to North Korea on dismantling its nuclear program.

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