“Maybe I’ll have to leave the country.”
Those words that Donald Trump pronounced a month and a half ago in Florida, when he contemplated publicly what he would do if he was not reelected, must be haunting him now that “safe harbor” day has finally arrived, certifying that he has decisively lost to Joe Biden.
In effect, as soon as his rival is inaugurated on January 20 of next year, the former president—no longer protected from prosecution by the executive privilege of his office and unable to escape the scrutiny of justice officials at the state level—will have to face the judicial consequences of his criminal and financial misbehavior.
In similar situations, many corrupt leaders who have lost power have departed their countries in order to avoid justice. If Trump decides to follow their example, the question arises: Who would receive him? Who could truly guarantee his safety?
The best candidate, by far, is Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, the despotic ruler of North Korea. I cannot know for sure, of course, if any offer has been made in the secret correspondence between these two men. But here is a letter that I imagine Kim might well have been patiently and cunningly preparing since he first met Donald Trump in Singapore and in two subsequent meetings, a letter that, if I were he, I would have sent off as soon as the outcome of the election became clear:
Your Excellency, Donald J. Trump:
When there is trouble at home, it is wise to have friends elsewhere.
Never were the words of my venerable father, Kim Jong-il, wiser or more pertinent to this historic moment.
If I can be honest—and what are friends for, if not to tell each other the truth?—you face much trouble. I am surprised that, given your command of the presidency, the armed forces, and all those militias that support your cause, you allowed Joe Biden and his fake news acolytes to steal this rigged election. In any case, your triumphant enemies will now seek vengeance and demand that you be sentenced to prison and pay enormous fines for fraud and back taxes.
It is a pity that you cannot cling to power, heeding your own wise advice that when someone attacks you, you always attack back… except 100 times more. And you certainly have tried! But you have also stated that being a winner is knowing when to move on to something that’s more productive, knowing that the worst of times often create the best opportunities to make good deals.
It is such a deal that I wish to propose now, as you select the right country to grant you asylum once your term is up. Forget your so-called allies, who were unreliable yesterday and will shun you even more today. As for strong leaders you admire—Erdogan, Duterte, Sisi, Orbán, Putin, Bolsonaro—can any of them provide you with real security? Could they not be overthrown or lose an election?
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There is only one natural and solid choice for Your Excellency.
Who could be a more delighted host than myself, and what place could be safer than the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Who else is part of a dynasty, as you are, and learned from his father to be tough, as you learned from yours? Who else is assured of remaining in office till the day he dies? Is there any other nation that can boast not one Covid-19 case, ensuring that no one who accompanies you will come down with the virus that you have defeated with a speed that has astonished mankind?
No other land will appreciate more your innumerable talents. I own, after all, the best real estate on Earth. Primely located between China and South Korea, with pristine, virgin beaches and valleys, vast resources, and cheap labor—and no meddling judges or pesky ecological fanatics to interfere with their stupid environmental regulations. Even when you were bankrupt, you managed to procure the sort of capital to make miracles happen. I am sure that you will be able to obtain huge investments from Russian oligarchs and petro-sheiks. Casinos, hotels, skyscrapers, resorts, the Trump-Kim Towers—all of this is within reach. While you, of course, will be safely out of reach of your creditors.
What do I expect in return for granting asylum to you and your loved ones?
As you are already planning to inflict, over the coming weeks, as much pain and havoc as possible on a country that has not been smart enough to recognize how you made it GREAT AGAIN, why not be remembered for a huge international victory as well? All you need do is announce the withdrawal of troops from South Korea and the lifting of all sanctions on my beloved nation, in return for my solemn promise to totally denuclearize. As your intelligence services have stressed (an appraisal you have sagely ignored), I have no intention of giving up the DPRK’s nuclear arsenal or missiles. In what other way can I protect myself from foreign aggression—and provide a big, beautiful shield for Your Excellency, if you accept my generous offer?
Besides a surefire Nobel Prize for us both, for having secured the peace that has eluded our predecessors, my offer brings with it an extra advantage. I predict that your decision to settle permanently in Pyongyang will turn into the spectacle of the millennium, publicity the likes of which the world has never seen before. And if you travel here on January 19, you can undermine the coverage accorded to your rival—the worst and weakest candidate in history to gain the US presidency—and grab the spotlight for yourself. Truly, a fantasy film for all involved.
I end with a Korean proverb: A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.
Let the rest of the world walk away from Your Excellency as long as you have in me a real friend, someone who loves you as dearly as my people love me.
Do we have a deal?
With enormous reverence and expectation for the great honor you are about to bestow upon your humble servant,
Chairman Kim Jong-un