In Brief

What Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump’s body language reveals

US president ‘tried to take over’ by patting the North Korean leader multiple times

180612_kim_jong_un_and_donald_trump_.jpg

Body language experts have been unpicking the unprecedented meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore today.

The US president has insisted that he and the North Korean leader “trust” each other and had an “honest, direct and productive” meeting - but what does their body language reveal?

Trump was “desperate to be seen to be in charge”, according to Paul Boross, an authority on communiation and pitching skills.

Analysing the historic handshake between the two leaders, Boross told Sky News that the US president “tried to take over” during their “very, very staged” first encounter.

Trump gave Kim several pats on the arm after the handshake, which Boross described as a “control indicator”.

“Trump tries to take over and he is doing as many pats as he can, which is very interesting because actually it doesn’t necessarily show the man who’s in charge,” he explained. “What it actually shows is the man who’s desperate to be seen to be in charge.”

Kim - who appeared to be wearing “lifts” in his shoes to make him seem taller - showed more control by staying very still and not reacting to all the touching, Boross added.

Karen Leong, managing director of Singapore-based talent development firm Influence Solutions, agreed that both leaders were trying to take charge. However, she noted that both found it difficult to conceal their nervousness once they were sitting down.

Trump displayed a slanted smile and fidgeted with his hands, while Kim was leaning and staring at the ground, Leong told Australian news site news.com.au.

However, cultural differences also need to be taken into account when analysing the exchange, according to Australian expert Allan Pease. For example, there seemed to be an awkward moment when Trump stared at Kim and the North Korean leader looked away, Pease told the South China Morning Post.

But in Korean culture, it is polite not to make full eye contact with someone who is older, and Trump is twice Kim’s age, the body language expert explained.

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