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Does Kim Jong Un speak English?

How well will Trump and the North Korean leader be able to communicate during their upcoming nuclear summit?
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(Photo: Getty Images)

As of yesterday, President Trump is scheduled to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, to discuss the future of the North Korean nuclear program. Further details about the meeting have begun to emerge — increasingly visible North Korean first lady Ri Sol-Ju is expected to attend, and Singapore was chosen as the location over the Korean demilitarized zone so as not to make Kim seem too conciliatory. But many basic questions remain: Namely, will Trump and Kim be able to communicate directly? Does Kim Jong Un speak English?

Does Kim Jong Un speak English?

Details about Kim's education have long been sketchy. It was originally thought Kim attended an English-language international school. But according to an April report in the South China Morning Post, it's now believed that Kim attended a German-language boarding school in Switzerland. During a televised Apr. 27 meeting between Kim and the South Korean president, viewers were surprised to hear Kim speaking in a "Swiss-influenced, non-North-Korean accent."

But the extent of his knowledge of English is unclear. In 2014, Sky News reported on the unlikely meetings between NBA star Dennis Rodman and Kim, saying that Rodman spoke no Korean and Kim spoke no English, so their conversations were conducted by interpreters.

In 2013, CBS News reported onRodman and Kim's first meeting, saying the two "chatted in English" but that Kim "spoke primarily in Korean through a translator."

does kim jong un speak english

In more recent reports, analysts can't agree whether Kim is prepared to speak English in his meeting with Trump. "Some South Korean experts believe the 34-year-old leader is fluent in English," a Mar. 18 UPI report says. But Kim hasn't clearly demonstrated that. "Kim may have learned English during his studies abroad but he doesn't seem to be perfectly fluent," said Ahn Chan-il, a former North Korean military officer who defected to the South and is currently President of the World Institute for North Korea Studies. "It's likely he will greet President Trump in English and use an interpreter for the meeting."