Any time two world leaders meet to actually talk and build bridges, that can only be construed as a good thing. Hope resides within such a meeting. My problem is not in the meeting but in the whitewash of who it is Mr. Trump met with recently in Singapore.

The regime of North Korea, both past and present, has been and remains brutal to its people, and only a few at the top benefit. Although, being in the top few elite or being related to the president of North Korea is no guarantee of life, as his late uncle and generals know.

I was gobsmacked that Mr. Trump lauded Kim Jong-un as a great leader, someone who took over a country at such a young age and succeeded. When one’s family kills off dissenters, starves its people and decides to live virtually in another century from the rest of the world, success is not hard for the son of “ Our Dear Leader.” He was also surrounded by seasoned generals and family and remains so, with the exception of those he had murdered.

This is not my model of a great guy, a great leader. I am delighted that this man who kills at will still has “a great sense of humor,” but I wonder at Mr. Trump’s ability to wipe clean history in a meeting so brief that according to him, they did not have time to get all the details discussed. For me it would take a little more than a casual meeting, with a few laughs thrown in, to convince me that Saddam Hussein was a great guy who really knew how to run a country.

Do not mistake me: If we actually end up with a deal that takes nukes off Kim Jong-un’s table, that would be great — if we can have control of the surprise inspections and reduce sanctions over a period of time while everything is verified and remains true to an agreement that at this time has no details.

I am all for taking a big step toward world safety. However, we owe South Korea transparency, support and continued vigilance. Taking away war games and possibly a military presence in this region is not a good strategy until we see real and verified change. South Korea is the “girl we brought to the dance” in all of this, and we ought to be sure that we leave with her while we keep an eye on her sister up North. South Korea has the most to lose, and it seems we have diplomatically kicked her to the curb by not discussing some of this with her.

The millions of starving North Koreans may well become their problem if free movement is allowed. Yes, families may be reunited, but also all the problems of the North will demonstrate what real trickle-down theory looks like.

Kim Jong-un has had a life where his word is life and death. He eats while others starve, so what will his new world include? Will he really turn into that great leader Mr. Trump thinks is there? Will only he and his closest, still living friends join Mr. Trump in seeing those beaches as condos and hotels? Really? That is what bringing them into this century should look like?

Maybe we should be talking about education of farmers so they all can eat, basic human rights so that people are not led to slaughter, rather than a real estate mogul’s dream of beach condos.  

Sure, Trump International may have first dibs there, but is that our moral equivalent to bringing a people forward? Is real estate our measure? It seemed to be for Mr. Trump.

Let’s not lose sight of the history of Kim Jong-un’s family, their many crimes, and their many broken promises. We have made deals with tyrants before and we will again, but to call them other than by their rightful and earned title of tyrant is dangerous and stupidly naive, and Mr Trump is not naive.

I hope the deal is defined and works. South Korea deserves to live in safety. North Korea deserves change, but it will not come overnight, nor should it be via condos and hotels on a “lovely beach,” but by their own growth toward real honor and freedom.

To call a tiger a cat does not tell the whole story, and when that tiger eats someone in our village, who do we blame? The tiger who was always a tiger, or the fool who said, “Oh look, what a nice cat”?

Joyce Reehling lives in Pinehurst. She retired here from New York after a 33-year career in theater, TV and commercials.

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