Trump's off-the-cuff summit with Kim Jong Un might succeed

Like the late American comedian Rodney Dangerfield, the North Korean dictator believes he and his country get no respect. Kim has already burnished his legitimacy and prestige by getting a summit that treats him as an equal with Trump and legitimizes North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, while Washington received nothing upfront in return.

But a picture is worth a thousand words, and Kim wants lots of pictures beamed around the world and in North Korea showing him going handshake-to-handshake with Trump. At this point, these intangible rewards and concrete demonstrations that the United States has ended its “hostile policy” toward North Korea are probably more important to Kim than reaping immediate economic and diplomatic concessions.

Kim also wants to continue chipping away at the rapidly crumbling architecture of international sanctions. A summit that creates a “spirit of Singapore” serves these purposes, while drawing closer to America helps him increase North Korea’s independence from China.