Deciphering Kim Jong Un's Motives

The Game He's Trying to Play

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, September 22, 2017. KCNA via Reuters

On Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly canceled a forthcoming summit with South Korea and threatened to pull out of the June 12 talks with U.S. President Donald Trump, claiming that ongoing U.S.-South Korean drills were a “provocation.” Trump has been no less volatile, tweeting days before that he could still call off the meeting at the very last moment. But what Kim’s move reveals is a broader strategy at work. In the lead-up to the Singapore summit, should it still take place, Trump may be preparing for the wrong game: a two-player round of checkers when Kim is steeling for a multiplayer two-board chess match. On one board will be the future of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs, what Trump came to negotiate. On the other will be what Kim and the other participants know is also crucially at stake: the future of

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