The reclusive communist regime in North Korea appears to be at a loss trying to figure out President Donald Trump and has gone to great lengths to get into his mind.
Pyongyang has reached out to several Republican experts, all of whom have declined invitations, according to an investigative report by The Washington Post.
The campaign began before tensions between the United States and North Korea escalated, but are more relevant now that Pyongyang is facing strict sanctions and the threat of total elimination, both spearheaded by Trump and his administration.
“Their number one concern is Trump,” one expert familiar with North Korea’s campaign told The Washington Post. “They can’t figure him out.”
North Korea’s mission to the United Nations invited former Central Intelligence Agency analyst Bruce Klingner to visit Pyongyang.
Klingner is the top North Korea expert at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank known for its influence on Trump.
Klingner declined the invitation.
“They’re on a new binge of reaching out to American scholars and ex-officials,” Klingner said. “While such meetings are useful, if the regime wants to send a clear message, it should reach out directly to the U.S. government.”
North Korea also approached Douglas H. Paal, a former Asia expert on the National Security Council under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. They asked Paal to set up a meeting between American experts with Republican ties and North Korean officials.
Paal also declined.
“The North Koreans are clearly eager to deliver a message,” Paal said. “But I think they’re only interested in getting some travel, in getting out of the country for a bit.”
The communist regime in Pyongyang has issued seven such invitations to various experts and organizations, according to The Washington Post.
This is in addition to several meetings between North Korean officials and Americans over the past two years. These meetings are official for North Korea, but unofficial for the United States, though the American citizens keep the government informed about the conversations.
These talks started out broadly with North Koreans asking about promises Trump made on the campaign trail. For example, Pyongyang officials wanted to know if Trump really intended to remove military bases in South Korea and Japan. But the probing has become more specific as heated rhetoric between Trump and Kim escalated.
“The North Koreans are reaching out through various channels and through various counterparts,” Evans Revere, a former State Department official, said. “My own guess is that they are somewhat puzzled as to the direction in which the U.S. is going, so they’re trying to open up channels to take the pulse in Washington.”
Revere met with a North Korean delegation in Switzerland early in September. He said the North Koreans had a nearly “encyclopedic” knowledge of Twitter messages Trump sent, sometimes quoting Tweets back to the Americans in their entirety.
Trump’s offensive on North Korea is consistent with his opposition to communism and socialism. Trump views both ideologies as disastrous and murderous. North Korea is an example of a late-stage communist regime.
The country is covered with dozens of large-scale labor camps where hundreds of thousands of people are feared to have perished. Meanwhile, the majority of the population is starving, with most of the resources going toward Kim’s dream of building a nuclear missile.
“From the Soviet Union to Cuba, Venezuela—wherever through socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish, devastation, and failure,” Trump said earlier this month. “Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems. America stands with every person living under a brutal regime.”