Trump, Kim mind their body language with a handshake of equals

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looked far more confident compared to their last meeting, while US President Donald Trump welcomed Mr Kim with his palm facing up - a sign, said body language expert Karen Leong, that was almost supplicatory.
PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE/SEOUL - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump were at pains to show they were getting along in the well-choreographed first moments of their meeting in Hanoi, body language experts said.

The first images of their meeting in the Vietnamese capital showed them both walking towards each other against a backdrop of intertwined flags, hands outstretched, before they clasped and turned in sync to face the flashes of the assembled media.

"They are both making an effort to show their relationship has improved since the last time," said Mr Allan Pease, an Australian body language expert and author of several books on the topic. "The mirroring between them is quite strong."

Mr Pease said "mirroring" was how people who want to show that they have a rapport imitate each other's body language to put the other at ease.

Both of the leaders sought to project a sense of command with "alpha male" handshakes when they met in Singapore eight months ago, but displayed some anxiety in their first moments.

Mr Trump has since declared he and Mr Kim "fell in love" after exchanging letters, a far cry from the threats and insults traded in late 2017 when Mr Trump called Mr Kim "Little Rocket Man" and a "sick puppy", while Mr Kim said Mr Trump was a "dotard" - an archaic word meaning senile old person.

Mr Trump, 72, is more than twice the age of Mr Kim, 35.

Mr Kim looked far more confident compared to their last meeting in Singapore, while Mr Trump welcomed Mr Kim with his palm facing up - a sign, said body language expert Karen Leong, that was almost supplicatory.

From the handshake to the first meal, here are the differences between the Hanoi and Singapore Trump-Kim summits. http://str.sg/oa7Z

Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, 27 February 2019

"Kim was walking towards Trump far more briskly with his hand extended. Previously in Singapore, Kim was far more hesitant. There is much more sense of familiarity," said Ms Leong, managing director of Singapore-headquartered Influence Solutions and author of the book Win People Over.

"Trump wants the rapport. He is not here to become the bully, he is here to win Kim."

There were signs of tension, however, when the two men sat down after the initial handshake.

Mr Pease noted that Mr Trump - sitting in his traditional, dominant position with hands forward making a steeple shape - furrowed his brow. Mr Kim's fingers were clenched in his lap, a position that shows frustration and self-control.

"They both smiled only when they were expected to, and how they practised it. They were performing," he added.

The summit in Singapore marked the first time a sitting American president met a North Korean leader, but the vague agreement struck to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula has produced few concrete results.

Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un hold second summit in Vietnam

  • Nuclear talks between the US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were in disarray Thursday
  • as the two sides cancelled plans to hold a joint signing ceremony after making little progress on the way forward for Pyongyang to dismantle its decades-old push to be a nuclear power.
  • The first signs of trouble with the two-day summit in Hanoi came just past noon, when the White House told pool reporters a planned working lunch had been called off, and that Trump would return to his hotel for a press conference two hours earlier than expected - at 2pm local time.
  • The White House said later that "no agreement was reached".
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump were at pains to show they were getting along in the well-choreographed first moments of their meeting in Hanoi, body language experts said.
  • There were signs of tension, however, when the two men sat down after the initial handshake.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un crossed into Vietnam on Tuesday (Feb 26) after a marathon train journey for a second summit showdown with Donald Trump, with the world looking for concrete progress over the North's nuclear programme.
  • Kim's trademark olive green train chugged into the Vietnamese station of Dong Dang following a 4,000km, two-and-a-half-day odyssey shrouded in secrecy.
  • Schoolchildren waving North Korean flags and a military guard of honour in pristine white uniforms greeted Kim, the first North Korean leader to visit Vietnam since his grandfather Kim Il Sung in 1964.
  • Security was ultra-tight with scores of heavily armed Vietnamese soldiers and police guarding the site.
  • Authorities have shut down the 170km stretch of road to Hanoi that Kim is due to take.
  • US President Donald Trump waves while disembarking from Air Force One at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.
  • Vietnamese soldiers stand in a formation at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.
  • Vietnamese children wave flags of Vietnam and the US before the arrival of US President Donald Trump at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi
  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the Government office, ahead of the second U.S.-North Korea summit, in Hanoi, Vietnam.
  • US President Donald Trump and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Phu Trong attend a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi

VIDEOS TO WATCH

SERVICES