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Behind Kim Jong-un's slew of meetings with world leaders

Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping are shaking hands in the middle of the photo.
Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping Photo: AFP / Getty Images

Since taking power in 2011, Kim Jong-un hadn’t met with a single foreign leader — until last week. In a matter of a few short weeks Kim Jong-un has held a meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, his first with a foreign leader, secured a commitment to meet with the President of the United States, and has a face-to-face meeting set up with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in for the end of April. Meetings with Moscow and Tokyo are also potentially in the works, per the AP.

This is quite the departure from the hermit kingdom modus operandi. So why the flurry of meetings? It could be that Kim Jong-un is seeking a release from the pressure of sanctions. But there’s more at stake, including Kim Jong-un’s ego, the rush that comes from negotiating, and the country’s reputation on the international stage.