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Trump Saluted a North Korean General, Setting Off a Debate

 ·  Megan Specia, New York Times   ·   Link to Article

Footage of President Trump saluting a top North Korean general during this week’s summit meeting with the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, set off debate on Thursday over military and diplomatic protocol.

The scene was part of a 42-minute documentary that aired on state television two days after the two leaders met in Singapore, offering another window into the historic encounter.

While greeting North Korean dignitaries after his initial handshake with Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump proceeded down the line shaking hands, the video shows. When Mr. Trump offered his hand to Gen. No Kwang-chol, who was recently promoted to defense chief, the general saluted instead.

Mr. Trump quickly raised his own hand and saluted back.

Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, a retired United States Army general, criticized the gesture in a statement.

“It is wholly inappropriate for the commander in chief of our armed forces to salute the military of our adversary, especially one which is responsible for a regime of terror, murder and unspeakable horror against its own people,” General Eaton said.

Others pointed out that with North and South Korea still technically at war (a formal peace treaty was never signed), it was inappropriate for Mr. Trump to salute the general of an adversary.

But some defended the salute, pointing out that General No had initiated it and saying that Mr. Trump was being polite in return.

The documentary, which included scenes not previously broadcast, appeared on the state-run KCTV and was enthusiastically presented by the North Korean television mainstay Ri Chun-hee. Much of the program, which followed Mr. Kim throughout his trip, was overlaid with soaring patriotic music and breathless narration.