Long before Mr Trump even announced his candidacy for the United States’ highest office — and even before Mr Kim became the leader of his country — Mr Trump showed a willingness to smack talk North Korea and complain that his country is being taken advantage of by the insular nation.
Mr Trump, a man who loves to brag about his deal making abilities, has a chance to show off that bragged about talent. Here is what he has said in the past in the evolving saga that has given birth to this potentially pivotal moment in history.
October 1999: At the time a businessman, Mr Trump says in an interview on “Meet the Press” that he would “negotiate like crazy” with North Korea if he were president.
“The biggest problem this world has is nuclear proliferation, and we have a country out there — North Korea, which is sort of wacko, not a bunch of dummies — and they are going out and they are developing nuclear weapons,” Mr Trump said.
March 2013: Mr Trump lashes out at South Korea, calling the country an “economic competitor” and saying that the US gets nothing in return for protecting the country. He also says that China could easily “solve this problem”, praises Dennis Rodman, and promotes Rodman’s upcoming appearance in Mr Trump’s reality television show. The star basketball player had just visited North Korea.
Mr Trump continues to criticise American foreign policy that spring, saying that then-President Barack Obama was not doing enough to contain the threat of North Korea.
“Where is the President?” he tweeted. “It is time for him to come on TV and show strength against the repeated threats from North Korea — and others.”
May 2014: Mr Trump lashes out on Rodman on Twitter, accusing the basketball star of lying when he indicated they had discussed Mr Trump tagging along on a trip to North Korea, and saying North Korea is the “last place on Earth I want to go to.”
September 2015: “Nobody ever mentions North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons and somebody better start thinking about North Korea and perhaps a couple of other places,” Mr Trump says during the second Republican presidential debate. “But certainly North Korea.”
Mr Trump later said that Mr Kim is a “bad dude” during the campaign, and then said that his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton was “weak” on North Korea.
March 2017: Mr Trump, now the President, says that the nuclear threat from North Korea has entered a “new phase”, just a day after Mr Kim’s regime test-launched four ballistic missiles toward Japan. Mr Trump reaffirmed the US’ commitment to defending Japan against a North Korean threat.
April 2017: Mr Trump warns that a “major major” conflict with North Korea, and said that he is seeking a diplomatic solution to the issue. Mr Trump said at the time that he believes Chinese President Xi Jinping was “trying very hard” to contain the threat from North Kore. At the time, rumors were circulating that Mr Kim was planning on yet another nuclear test.
May 2017: Transcripts surface showing that Mr Trump had discussed the North Korean threat with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and that he had promised the US will “take care of North Korea”.
During the call, Mr Trump also referred to Mr Kim as a “madman with nuclear weapons” who could not be let to run loose.
July 2017: Following another long range missile test, Mr Trump takes a measured approach, and accuses the country of isolating itself with the threatening lunches.
“Threatening the world, these weapons and tests further isolate North Korea, weaken its economy, and deprive its people,” Mr Trump said in a written statement following the launches. “The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the American homeland and protect our allies in the region.”
August 2017: Mr Trump gets biblical, sort of. Mr Trump tells “Rocket Man” — one of his nicknames for Mr Kim — that he would unleash “fire , fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before,” in response to growing threats from North Korea.
He later amended that statement when tensions over North Korea’s threats to bomb Guam did not break. Fire and fury, he said, was not “tough enough” for Mr Kim. But, he said he’d wait to see what happened with Guam.
September 2017: America — and the rest of the English speaking world, really — becomes acquainted with the 14th Century term “dotard” after Mr Kim releases an unprecedented letter written by him personally, and attacking Mr Trump.
“I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire,” Mr Kim wrote.
Mr Trump did not take it well.
“Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!” Mr Trump tweeted.
October 2017: Mr Trump hints in a tweet that he might have lost faith in talking it out with North Korea.
“Only one thing will work,” Mr Trump warned.
“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years,” he tweeted, adding that talking “hasn’t worked”.
Mr Kim’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, meanwhile, claimed that Mr Trump had “lit the wick of war against us” during an interview with a Russian state owned media organisation.
November 2017: Mr Trump, during a speech in Tokyo, criticises North Korea’s human rights record, saying to Mr Kim that the country is “not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.”
Mr Trump also puts North Korea back on the state sponsors of terrorism list.
January 2018: During his first State of the Union, Mr Trump tells the story of a North Korean defector in graphic terms.
“He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain,” Mr Trump said of Ji Seong Ho. “His tormentors wanted to know if he’d met any Christians. He had — and he resolved, after that, to be free.”
“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland,” Mr Trump said during that speech. “We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to American and to our allies.”
February 2018: Vice President Mike Pence attends the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang. Also in attendance was Mr Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, just feet away.
March 2018: Mr Trump announces he plans on meeting with Mr Kim.