Trump canceled his summit with Kim Jong Un while US and international journalists were still in North Korea

  • President Donald Trump canceled his much-awaited summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday while about 30 international journalists, including many US citizens, were still in the country.
  • Trump pointed to the “tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent North Korean statements as cause for his cancellation.
  • North Korea is known to detain US citizens for thin reasons and sentence them to hard labor, and a US journalist inside the country said things were “very awkward and uncomfortable.”

President Donald Trump canceled his much-awaited summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday while about 30 international journalists, including many US citizens, were still in the country.

Trump pointed to the “tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent North Korean statements as cause for his cancellation. But besides the string of angry statements, North Korea had undertaken another initiative: Inviting in foreign media to witness the destruction of its nuclear testing site.

Journalists from US, UK, Russian, Chinese, and South Korean news outlets traveled to North Korea to cover the event that took place on Thursday.

“Being inside this country just hours after they blew up a nuclear site.. it’s very awkward and uncomfortable moment right now,” said CNN’s Will Ripley, who is in North Korea.

Ripley described a “a surreal sense of shock” among North Korean officials when the news broke that Trump had canceled. “Imagine how they’re feeling at this moment,” he said on CNN.

North Korea is known to detain US citizens for thin reasons and sentence them to hard labor. Most recently, a college student was sentenced to hard labor for attempting to take a poster from a hotel. The student was eventually returned to his parents in the US in a coma, and he died days after coming home.

North Korea recently released three US detainees, who reportedly also were subject to hard labor. Holding US citizens gives North Korea leverage in talks with the US.

In Trump’s letter to Kim Jong Un, he thanked him for releasing the detainees.