South Korea’s presidential office said John Bolton painted a distorted picture of diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, joining the Trump administration in criticizing a memoir from the U.S. former national security adviser.
“It does not depict accurate facts,” Chung Eui-yong, the director of national security, said in a statement Monday from the office of President Moon Jae-in. Chung was referring to what Bolton wrote concerning nuclear disarmament discussions between the U.S., South Korea and North Korea. “A considerable portion of it is distorted,” he said, without elaborating.
Chung was a key player in negotiations leading up to the then-unprecedented meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in June 2018. He revealed Kim’s willingness to open nuclear talks after a trip to Pyongyang and days later during a visit to the White House announced Trump’s agreement to meet with the North Korean leader.
Bolton said Trump’s desire to place his personal interests ahead of the country’s extended to his dealings with world leaders including Kim. A longtime advocate of a more assertive approach to North Korea, Bolton hammered Trump over his decision to meet Kim last June in the Demilitarized Zone before Pyongyang had taken significant steps to dismantle its nuclear program.
“If he thought he could get a photo opportunity with Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarized Zone in Korea, there was considerable emphasis on the photo opportunity and the press reaction to it and little or no focus on what such meetings did for the bargaining position of the United States,” Bolton told ABC News.
The Trump administration has sought to block the publication of Bolton’s book — “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” — arguing it contained sensitive information related to national security. The president has said the book’s allegations about him are “lies.”