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How we got here: Trump and Kim's roller coaster year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un follows a saga of tumultuous exchanges between the two leaders.

The big picture: The highly anticipated meeting is back on for June 12, after President Trump had canceled it in response to a threatening statement from North Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs. As both parties make their way to Singapore and solidify their negotiating strategies, let's take a look at how we got here.

February 2017

Feb. 11: North Korea tests a ballistic missile just three weeks into Trump's presidency, while he is hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the New York Times reports. Trump and Abe then host a press conference denouncing the test.

  • Between February and November, North Korea conducts 16 separate missile tests, an unprecedented stretch of testing for the regime, according to CNN's data.

June 2017

June 30: During a visit to Washington from South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump warns that "the era of strategic patience with the North Korea regime has failed ... and frankly that patience is over."

August 2017

Aug. 8: Trump tells reporters that North Korea will "be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen," if it continues threatening the U.S.

  • Hours after Trump's "fire and fury" comments, North Korea says it is considering firing missiles at Guam.

Aug. 28: North Korea tests a ballistic missile over Japan, in what Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls an "unprecedented, serious and grave threat."

September 2017

Sept. 17: Trump dubs Kim "Rocket Man," a nickname he continues to use for months. Kim responds: "I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."

Sept. 19: Trump addresses the UN General Assembly: "The U.S. has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."

Sept. 23: Trump takes his nickname for Kim one step further by dubbing him "Little Rocket Man."

October 2017

November 2017

Nov. 28: North Korea launches a nuclear-capable ICBM it says can reach the entire U.S. mainland. Trump vows to "handle" the situation.

Nov. 30: North Korea unveils a new intercontinental ballistic missile that it claimed can reach any target in the continental United States.

January 2018

Jan. 1: Trump kicks off the new year saying the U.S. is "closer ... to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been — I don't see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point."

February 2018

Feb. 9: In a show of unity, North and South Korea enter the Olympics together and field a joint women's hockey team.

Feb. 20: A meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, is canceled 2 hours before it was supposed to happen.

March 2018

March 6: North Korea expresses a willingness to discuss denuclearization if the regime can be assured of its safety, after talks with South Korea.

  • Later that day, Trump tweets there is "[p]ossible progress being made in talks with North Korea...May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!"

March 8: Trump agrees to meet with Kim by May, after the regime promises to halt nuclear testing.

April 2018

April 17: Trump sent then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo on a secret trip to North Korea to meet with Kim, just days before being sworn in as Secretary of State. The president confirmed the meeting with a tweet.

April 30: Kim meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to offer overtures of peace, formally ending the Korean War. Both sides showed they were willing to work together alongside Trump.

May 2018

May 10: Pompeo embarks on a second trip to North Korea, bringing home three freed American prisoners.

May 14: Trump declared that a successful outcome from the summit would be ensuring that North Korea "get[s] rid of their nukes."

May 15: Kim threatened to cancel the summit because of joint military drills between South Korea and the U.S.

May 22: Trump cast doubt upon the Korean summit, saying "maybe it will happen later" after Kim threatened to cancel the summit.

May 23: A top North Korean official called Mike Pence a "political dummy" and said the country refused to denuclearize per the United States' request.

May 24: Kim claimed to destroy the country's nuclear test site.

  • Later that day, Trump canceled the summit in part because North Korea wouldn't share planning details with the U.S.

June 2018

June 1: Following a meeting with North Korean official Kim Yong-chol, who delivered a letter from Kim to the president, Trump announced that the summit is back on, as scheduled, for June 12 in Singapore.

Axios' Haley Britzky, Lauren Meier and Dave Lawler contributed to this story.

Editor's note: This story has been updated and will continue to be as we receive new developments.

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