There was reportedly a “real sense of shock” among North Korean officials on Thursday when it came to light that President Donald Trump had canceled the impending summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Ripley was part of a group of reporters in North Korea invited to witness the dismantling of its primary nuclear test site, a process he watched shortly before the news broke that Trump had canceled the meeting.
The North Korean officials didn’t give any official statement, Ripley said, but “immediately got up and left” to get on the phone and “relay the news up to the top.”
“Imagine how they’re feeling at this moment given the fact they just blew up their nuclear site today as a sign… of their willingness to denuclearize,” Ripley said.
Ripley said he and the other reporters watched the North Koreans blow up three tunnels at the nuclear test site, though he was careful to note that he’s not an expert and can’t verify with certainty the site is no longer usable.
In his letter to Kim, Trump said he’d looked forward to meeting him but felt the summit should be canceled after recent “hostile” statements from the North Korean government.
“If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write,” Trump said in the letter. “The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.”