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Opinion today: The North Korean dictator turned diplomat

Opinion today: The North Korean dictator turned diplomat
16 Jun
5:15

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stepped squarely into the media spotlight this week during his summit meeting with US president Donald Trump. The dictator was once known mostly for the bizarre deaths that befell his relatives on his orders, as Bryan Harris points out in a profile. But, in Singapore this week, Mr Kim roamed the streets and skyscrapers of Singapore, took selfies with the foreign minister and was feted like a rock star.

Mr Kim succeeded in resetting relations with Mr Trump, who dubbed him a “great personality and very smart”. But he now faces additional challenges. Most analysts are sceptical of his vague denuclearisation promises and he has promised to reform his country’s woeful economy. North Korea’s 1m-strong army — long a thorn in the side of Mr Kim’s father and predecessor — is also watching closely.

Asia’s Sputnik moment
Evan Medeiros argues that Mr Trump’s behaviour this week is forcing a rethink among Asian leaders. After watching him pick a fight with Canada and the rest of the G7, cozy up to Mr Kim and impose up to $50bn tariffs on China, some policymakers are likely to start taking measure to make their countries less vulnerable to the whims of the US president.

Miserable maths
The new tougher maths exams being inflicted on 15 and 16-year-olds in most of the UK right now are a retrograde mistake that will produce the greatest possible anxiety and stress — particularly for the less able students, writes Kenneth Baker.

Who runs Brexit
This week’s Brexit debate saw rebel Tories try to force UK Minister Theresa May into a corner over parliament’s role in the departure from the EU. Bronwen Maddox explores the crazy twists and turns and argues that drama is getting in the way of principles.

Best of the week

The long wait for a productivity resurgence— Martin Wolf

We survived GDPR, now another EU privacy law looms— Julia Apostle

Shoppers who have kept UK retailers alive are a spent force— Miranda Green

Democracy must come first when taking on Donald Trump— Janan Ganesh

Playing chicken over the post-Brexit Irish border— Martin Wolf

Conservative predictions of Jeremy Corbyn’s decline are premature— Robert Shrimsley

Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and the route to trade mayhem— Gideon Rachman

The glorious absurdity of American diplomacy under Donald Trump— Roula Khalaf

What you’ve been saying

Wasted opportunities to apply leverage to Cuba— Letter from Néstor Enrique Cruz:

John Paul Rathbone’s Global Insight column “ 21st century socialism unravels in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua” (June 12) is an excellent summary of the economic calamities in Cuba and its Latin American satellites. To complete the picture, it should be pointed out that despite substantial investments in Cuba by European and Canadian companies, their respective governments have failed to use that leverage to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba.

Comment from Gem on The welcome distraction of the World Cup:

I saw today that the Russians have a cat that reliably predicts the results of all World Cup matches. My question is why we could not save a lot of time and money by keeping the cat, and getting rid of the football.

The meat we eat is neither simple nor cheap— Letter from Navraj Singh Ghaleigh:

Certainly the production costs and market price of real meat may be lower than the lab-produced alternatives, but this is because this fails to reflect the havoc wreaked by industrialised beef production. In major producer countries such as Brazil, the shift in land use from tropical forestry to pasture emits vast quantities of carbon dioxide as trees are felled, soil is tilled, and methane is emitted from enteric fermentation in the digestive tracts of ruminants. Diverse habitats rich in biodiversity become mono-cultural. Local communities, historic stewards of forests, are often displaced (sometimes forcibly) for cattle. None of these very real costs is reflected in the “cheapness” of meat.

Today’s opinion

World Cup: A tragicomic spectacle of theatre on the grandest stage

An unreliable US leaves the door open to Beijing
China uses coercive means to advance interests, from market access to maritime issues

High noon for Theresa May as parliament bids for Brexit say
The UK prime minister’s skill in postponing a battle with MPs has reached its limit

Person in the News: Kim Jong Un, the young despot turned diplomat
Optimistic observers of the North Korean leader believe he is preparing his people for a new path

Free Lunch: The eurozone must rediscover politics
What matters most is the leaders’ sense of what it is possible to do together

EM Squared: China’s retreating A-shares raise trading suspension fears
Widespread practice is increasingly a concern for asset managers

Tougher Maths GCSE is calculated to multiply stress and failure
Revamped exams for 15-year-olds are retrograde and will hurt less able students

Trump heads to Canada to replicate North Korea triumph
Buoyed by his success with Kim Jong Un, the US president rounds on his neighbour

Undercover Economist: The topsy-turvy logic of Donald Trump’s trade tirades
Despite what the president says, tariffs between rich countries are low

Ingram Pinn’s illustration of the week: The Great Game
Russia’s opening shot in its battle to restore its image in the global arena

EM Squared: Mauritius ‘miracle’ puts Australia in the shade
Island nation’s 37 years without a recession offers lessons to the rest of Africa

FT View

FT View: Lessons to be learnt from the Sorrell case
Directors must exert robust oversight over powerful chief executives

FT View: Central banks correctly go their separate ways
Monetary policy should continue to stand ready for downward shocks

The Big Read

The Big Read: Tesla: reality begins to collide with Elon Musk’s vision
Is Elon Musk’s recent announcement of job cuts a sign of belated realism or that financial problems are coming due?

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