Hamburger diplomacy could be on the table when President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in their long-awaited Singapore summit.
From the North Korean side, bringing McDonald’s to North Korea would be a tangible sign of normalization, one South Korean leader has said.
Chung-in Moon, a special adviser to South Korean president Moon Jae-in, said that during an April meeting between Moon and Kim, the concept of American companies establishing operations in North Korea was welcomed by the North Korean leader.
“They welcome American sponsors and multilateral consortiums coming into North Korea,” Chung told CNN. “They want to be a normal country, a normal state, to be recognized by the United States.”
He said that opening a McDonald’s would be a major step in that direction.
North Korea is not alone in that thinking.
Quoting a source it did not name, Axios reported Sunday that Trump favors businesses that are uniquely American — such as McDonald’s — establishing operations in North Korea.
That goes along with what NBC reported, citing what it was was an intelligence analysis of North Korea.
The network said Kim might allow a Western hamburger franchise to open in North Korea as a goodwill gesture. If that happens, more changes will follow, one expert said.
“This has happened with a number of different communist cultures,” Jenny Town, a research analyst at the Stimson Center and the managing editor of 38 North, a site about North Korea, told The Washington Post.
“Once they start to get different points of contact with the West, it changes their views — and it usually starts with McDonald’s or Coca-Cola,” she said.
“It’s part of growing consumerist culture in North Korea’s semi-market economy. Choices of food and restaurants are common desires among a citizenry that increasingly has disposable income,” she also said, according to The U.K. Sun.
Not everyone thinks that Happy Meals will soon be sold in North Korea.
“Perhaps the day we see American-style fast food restaurants in North Korea will be the day cultural diplomacy triumphs,” said Kayla Orta, an analyst in the History and Public Policy Program at the bipartisan Wilson Center. “But we’re a long way off from that day.”
However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that one of the prospects Trump will dangle in front of Kim is American investment in North Korea.
“This will be Americans coming in … to help build out the energy grid — they need enormous amounts of electricity in North Korea; to work with them to develop infrastructure, all the things that the North Korean people need, the capacity for American agriculture to support North Korea so they can eat meat and have healthy lives,” he said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.