President Donald Trump has pushed a narrative of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a "madman," belittling him as an irrational figure whose reckless words and actions will result in his untimely demise.
Wednesday, a CIA official disagreed with that assessment. Young Suk Lee, deputy assistant director of the CIA's Korea Mission Center, said that there is more to Kim than meets the eye.
Lee's analysis of Kim
"Beyond the bluster, Kim Jong Un is a rational actor," Lee said at a conference at George Washington University, according to Channel NewsAsia. "We have a tendency in this country to underestimate his conservatism. He wants to rule for a long time and die in his own bed."
Lee said Kim's dialogue and behavior stems from North Korea's history of being surrounded by powerful nations, putting it on the defensive and creating a political environment in North Korea that thrives on confrontation.
But, at the end of the day, Lee believes Kim will operate in self-interest.
“Waking up and deciding to nuke Los Angeles is not in his interest to survive,” Lee said.
What Trump has said about Kim and North Korea
- That Kim is a "madman"
- That "Little Rocket Man" is on a suicide mission
- That he would get China to make the "bad dude" disappear in one form of another "very quickly"
- That further threats from North Korea would be met with "fire and fury"
- That Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is "wasting his time" engaging in diplomatic talks with North Korea