The US is trying to find a discreet way to pay for Kim Jong Un’s hotel during the highly anticipated US-North Korea Summit on 12 June. This was according to a Washington Post article on 1 June.
The Stalinist dictatorship of North Korea required for a “foreign country” to foot the bill at its hotel of choice; The Fullerton. A single presidential suite there costs over US$6,000 per night. While the US was open to covering these costs, such an arrangement may been seen as an “insult” to North Korea’s delegation. Instead, US planners are considering asking Singapore to foot the bill instead. Such expenses won’t come cheap. During the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, South Korea set aside $2.6 million to cover travel accommodations for a North Korean cheering squad, an art troupe and other members of the visiting delegation.
Hosting the historic summit has already come at a considerable cost to Singapore in terms of manpower, logistics and the inevitable disruptions and inconveniences. The volatile nature of President’s Trump’s rhetoric did little to help. Trump initially announced in mid May that the summit would be held in Singapore on 12 June, only to cancel it on 24 May, citing North Korea’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent public statements. Trump then went back and forth on the status of the summit leaving planners and in disarray. The summit was only confirmed – again on 1 June, with less than two weeks to prepare. Behind the scenes, planners have been working overtime, thousands of police officers have had their leave frozen during the June school holidays and NSmen have been involuntarily recalled, all to ensure the success of this summit.
Now to add insult to injury, the US wants Singapore to foot the bill for North Korea’s delegation. When asked if Singapore will bear any cost in providing security and logistics arrangements in hosting the summit, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said: “Obviously yes, but it is a cost that we are willing to bear to play a small part in this historic meeting.”
To date, North Korea remains one of the world’s most impoverished countries. Most of the state’s spending goes to its nuclear program and the military. While its political elite live in material excess and luxury, the bulk of the population lives below the global poverty line. Malnutrition and disease are rampant and North Koreans attempting to escape are sent to forced labour camps or executed.