According to the Washington Post, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is demanding to stay at the 5-star Fullerton Hotel during his trip here to meet President of the United States of America (POTUS) Donald Trump at the highly anticipated summit between the two nations to be held on 12 June. The summit is expected to take place at the Capella Hotel at Sentosa, according to the Post.
Located along the Singapore River, the iconic Fullerton Hotel commands top dollar and charges over $6000 per night for its Presidential Suite. This price tag has not deterred the “prideful but cash-poor pariah state,” as described by the Post, to demand that their delegation be put up there.
The Post further reported, citing two unnamed sources who are allegedly familiar with the talks, that “When it comes to paying for lodging at North Korea’s preferred five-star luxury hotel, the United States is open to covering the costs…but it’s mindful that Pyongyang may view a U.S. payment as insulting.”
Payment for the North Korean delegation’s hotel stay would also contravene Treasury Department sanctions, according to former Treasury official Elizabeth Rosenberg, since the Office of Foreign Assets Control would need to “temporarily suspend the applicability of sanctions” through a waiver to accommodate such payments.
The Post reports that the US is expected to request these waivers from the United Nations and the Treasury to fund a variety of payments to do with North Korea’s travel, but that this list of exemptions could “draw scrutiny”.
Due to this, US planners are reportedly considering asking Singapore to foot the North Korean delegation’s bill, given that Singapore is the host nation.
The Post’s report comes as Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said today that Singapore will play its role to be a good host to the US-North Korea summit. When asked whether Singapore will bear any costs to do with security or logistical arrangements as it hosts the summit, the Minister confirmed: “Obviously yes, but it is a cost that we are willing to bear to play a small part in this historic meeting.”
Elaborating on the preparations Singapore is making to host the summit, Ng said: “I know that security agencies from the Home Team and the Singapore Armed Forces are busy planning to make sure that everything is safe. I know that officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working very hard…We want to contribute in our small way so that this summit can occur.”
Meanwhile, the POTUS is expected to stay at the Shangri-La hotel here during the summit.
Not the first time North Korea has made such bold demands
This isn’t the first time North Korea has made such bold monetary demands. During the 2018 Olympics, South Korea paid $2.6 million to accommodate the travel of a North Korean cheering squad, an art troupe and other members of the visiting delegation to PyeongChang. The International Olympic Committee also paid the bill for 22 North Korean athletes to travel to the event.
In another notable case, former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. was reportedly treated to an “elaborate 12-course Korean meal” by his North Korean hosts when he visited the nation to retrieve two prisoners – only to find out that he would be asked to pay the bill for the meal later.
An expert on Korea at Tufts University, Sung-Yoon Lee, commented: “North Korea can build nukes and ICBMs, but claim they are too poor to pay for foreign travel costs.”