In their first moments of meeting each other, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un both sought to project a sense of command as they began a historic summit in Singapore, according to a body language expert.
Karen Leong, Managing Director of Singapore-headquartered Influence Solutions, said the first 60 seconds showed both leaders seeking to take charge in their encounter.
“Their handshake seems to be between peers,” she said. “Trump seemed to be very aware of this, that he needed to up the stakes and be seen that he is the leader.”
Trump did most of the talking, and Kim appeared to listen attentively, turning to him three times during their walk toward their meeting room. But he also patted the US president’ arm, in an attempt to show control over the encounter.
The US President, who is more than twice Kim’s age, then appeared to lead the way to the library where they held a one-on-one meeting, placing his hand on the North Korean leader’s counterpart’s back.
However, Leong said both found it difficult to conceal their nervousness once they were seated, with Trump displaying a slanted smile, and fidgeting with his hands and Kim leaning and staring at the ground.
Ahead of the meeting, Trump had said he would be able to work out within the first minute whether his North Korean counterpart was serious about making peace.
“I think that very quickly I’ll know that something good is going to happen,” Trump said in Canada where we met leaders of other G7 economies. “I also think I’ll know if it’s going to happen fast – it may not, but I’ll know pretty quickly whether or not in my opinion something positive will happen.”