Anecdotes

Anecdote: Albright’s Brooch

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The following happened in October 2000 when US Secretary of State Albright was on a visit to Pyongyang. The world was keeping a watchful eye on her actions; to mounting surprise, she was seen to change her brooches several times, seeming to indicate variations in her psychological state, in excess of expectations.

On the first day of her arrival, Albright visited the Kumsusan Memorial Palace to pay homage to President Kim Il Sung and, in the evening of that day, enjoyed with Kim Jong Il the mass gymnastics and artistic performance The Ever-Victorious Workers’ Party of Korea, which was staged to mark the 55th founding anniversary of the WPK. That day she was wearing a brooch with the design of the Stars and Stripes.

This brooch was used by Albright, who possessed the finesse of delivering a “delicate political message” to and dexterously handling her dialogue partners by means of different types of brooches, as a symbol of the “dignity” of the United States.

The next day Kim Jong Il had talks with her for many hours, giving clear answers and conclusions to all her questions concerning Korea-US relations, complex and sensitive international issues, the situation in the Asia-Pacific region and on the Korean peninsula, and the missile issue, which was of greatest concern to the United States.

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Albright explicitly expressed her admiration for her dialogue partner, as if she forgot that she was having formal talks, saying that Kim Jong Il’s clear-cut answers were really fascinating. These words were not an expression of diplomatic etiquette but spoken from her heart. As a token of her feelings, she wore a heart-shaped brooch at a banquet she arranged in honour of Kim Jong Il. This brooch was a symbol of her respect and admiration for her dialogue partner.

In the report that she submitted to President Clinton after her return home, Albright wrote: It is entertaining to have talks with Kim Jong Il, for he listens to his dialogue partner to the last in a prudent manner and with great attention and shows himself to be magnanimous; it is, accordingly, inevitable to be drawn deep into his theories and assertions during negotiations.

Albright was with Kim Jong Il for 14 hours during her sojourn in Pyongyang. When she appeared at the airport to return home, she wore a cowboy-shaped brooch, a symbol of peace, which was glittering in the sunlight.

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