3 Tips for Handling Conflicts from the Trump-Kim Summit

Editor’s Note: This is a tongue-in-cheek take on the Trump-Kim Summit.

So, it finally happened. Yesterday (12 June) the world stopped as US president Donald J Trump met with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un to hash out their plans for world peace.

There was a big build-up since the summit was first announced months ago, and the Donald and Kim kept us in suspense about whether it would go through. Will they or won’t they? The summit was on and off again, going through more cycles of uncertainty than my church repeating the chorus of Chris Tomlin’s masterpiece “How Great is Our God”.

At the end of it, we got a nice autographed joint declaration which reaffirmed the US and North Korea’s commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as well as genuine hope for world peace. All a bit of an anti-climax, if you ask me.

Instead, it is this writer’s opinion that the real triumph of the summit was the progress they made in their friendship. I mean, did you see the warmth that the leaders displayed when they locked eyes and shook hands for the first time? What a moment.

How about when they sat side by side, tenderly signing their joint declaration? And don’t forget the earnest ‘working lunch’ they had where they were found staring kindly across the table at each other as they enjoyed their beef short rib confit.

It wasn’t just peace between nations that was forged that day; in the words of Trump, the duo “developed a very special bond”.

So, with all this bonding and friendship-making going on, wouldn’t it be a shame if the only takeaway from the summit was mere world peace? Instead, here are three things we learned about handling relationship conflicts from Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un:

1. Sometimes we just need to put away the technology and talk face-to-face

Did someone say “covfefe”? Nobody can deny that @realDonaldTrump is a prolific social media maven. But it was also social media that almost cost us this beautiful friendship. In the midst of their constant bickering through official state press releases, Trump helped to fight fire the only way he knew how—with fire—through his Twitter account. Some choice tweets include calling Kim the “little rocket man” as well as reminding the world about the big functioning nuclear button on his desk.

But look what happened when the Leader of the Free World put down his smartphone and met his North Korean counterpart in person.

Similarly, when we find ourselves in a conflict with someone, we might need to put down that phone and resolve things face-to-face. While technology has made things easier and communication faster, there’s nothing like a good ol’ man-to-man conversation. No harm opening in prayer and breaking some bread too—just look at the effectiveness of Trump and Kim’s working lunch. And to close, it would only be polite to bid each other farewell with a customary “the peace of the Lord be with you”.


2. When hashing out a conflict, find a neutral spot

Contrary to popular belief, Singapore isn’t in China. In fact, a quick Google search confirmed that Singapore is over 2,175 miles (or 3,500 km)  away from North Korea’s traditional ally; it’s actually a sovereign state all on its own. And as a sovereign state, Singapore has maintained diplomatic ties with both North Korea and the US—making it the perfect neutral spot for the summit to take place.

The same applies to us: it’s always helpful to find a neutral space to meet to resolve a conflict. Find a spot where neither you nor your friend feels threatened, where the both of you can relax and let your hair down. For the best results, ensure that you call the church keyboardist to play softly in the background. As he ushers in a time of quieting our souls, even the hardest of hearts will be softened.


3. It might help to get a third party involved

Having made considerable progress in diplomacy with North Korea, South Korea was trusted by Kim to deliver an invitation for the summit to Trump. On  8 March, when Trump accepted the invitation, the world rejoiced at the prospects of finally seeing a beautiful friendship blossom.

However, earlier last month when Trump called the summit off in retaliation to what he described as “tremendous anger and open hostility” from North Korea, many feared that our chances of seeing the Donald and the Supreme Leader together were over.

Enter South Korea. Their President, Moon Jae-in, helped to smooth things over between the two dignified statesmen and ensured that the summit would go ahead.

When it comes to our relationships, we can learn much from Trump and Kim’s nuanced approach. Look at Matthew 18:15-16, which highlights the usefulness of having an impartial go-between to mediate the disagreement. A helpful suggestion might be to get your youth pastor to serve as the third party. If he’s not too busy checking out the latest place to get artisan roasted coffee, it’s very likely that he’ll be available to referee the dispute.

If all else fails, and your friend is being particularly difficult, it might be time to follow what Jesus says in Matthew 18:17 and get the whole church involved. Hopefully then, the conflict will be resolved peaceably and we can all continue to co-exist as a big, happy family.

So, there we have it, this whole summit wasn’t a waste after all. Not only did we get that joint declaration, but we learned a lot about ourselves and how to handle relationships. I think we can echo Trump in saying it was “a tremendous success”.


For a more serious take on the Trump-Kim Summit, please read this article.

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