Kim Jong-un is newest addition to list of leaders Duterte admires

May 1, 2018 - 2:37 PM
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks on a phone while surrounded by the military. (Reuters/file photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte added a strongman to his list favorite leaders after he called North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un his “idol” on Sunday following the historic Koreas summit.

The chief executive praised Kim’s “sense of timing,” along with the willingness of his counterpart, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, to formally end the decades-long Korean War.

“He has become my idol—Kim Jong Un. For all of the time, he was pictured to be the bad boy of the community. But with one master stroke, he is now the hero of everybody. He appears to be amiable, jolly good fellow, and very accommodating,” Duterte said.

Aside from Kim, the president has marveled at his good rapport with American President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Day of Valor last month, Duterte openly proclaimed that he “loves” Chinese President-for-life Xi Jinping.

After the successful peace meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Duterte said Kim is “the man of the hour” and hoped to meet and congratulate him some day.

“And maybe, just maybe, we can avoid a war which nobody can win anyway,” he added.

The change of tone was sudden. Duterte after all denounced Kim a few times in the past. In August last year, the Philippine president called him a “chubby faced maniac playing with dangerous toys,” referring to the nuclear weapons North Korea reportedly keeps.

Filipinos have mixed reactions on social media. Some even deemed the turnaround “surreal.”

Meanwhile, there are those who just poked fun at the turn of events.
Last Friday, Kim and Moon held a peace summit to cease the war that divided the Korean countries in the 1950s and begin the “denuclearization” in the peninsula.

Philippines-North Korea relationship

An article from the Diplomat explains why North Korea and the Philippines have not enjoyed good relations.

During the height of the Korean war in the 1970s, President Ferdinand Marcos sided with Seoul’s “anti-communist orientation,” foreign policy analyst Samuel Ramani explained.

Pyongyang’s nuclear tests also became a concern when some debris from a North Korean rocket launch fell into the waters of Luzon in 2012.

North Korea’s belligerence under the leadership of Kim and his father, dictator Kim Jong-il, is considered to be a major security  threat to its Asia-Pacific neighbors. It is similarly a concern to the Philippines, which has large numbers of Filipino migrant workers in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, one of the likely targets in case war breaks out.

Filipinos are the only people in Asia-Pacific who generally have a positive view of North Korea.

Interestingly, Filipinos are the only people in Asia-Pacific who generally have a positive view of North Korea. A Pew survey conducted from March to May last year showed that 53 percent of Filipinos held a favorable view of the hermit nation, while 33 percent had a negative sentiment.

In July last year, Manila welcomed a North Korean delegation led by Vice Foreign Minister Choe Hui Choi that arrived ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ meeting and related summits.

Trade with North Korea was suspended by September in compliance to a United Nations Security Council resolution to sanction the country over its repeated missile tests.

Duterte’s other world favorites

Before Kim, Duterte first declared Russian leader Putin his “idol” two years ago. During this time, he admitted he is looking to turn the Philippines foreign policy toward Russia and China as possible partners. He also repeatedly criticized the United States, the Philippines’ traditional ally and geopolitical rival to both Russia and China.

In March, he congratulated iron-fisted Putin on his reelection as president.

While Duterte showed hostility toward Obama who criticized his drug war, he became fast friends with the latter’s successor. Earlier this year, Trump even praised Duterte’s crackdown on drug dealers despite the thousands who have perished in police operations.

Despite the territorial row in the West Philippine Sea, the chief executive said he “loves” Jinping because the Chinese president “understands my problem and he’s willing to help.”

Related:

Duterte’s ‘I love Xi Jinping’ on Day of Valor and other praises