Updated at 7:20 a.m.
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam—When Kim Jong Un arrives in Vietnam this month for his second face-to-face meeting with President Donald Trump, the North Korean dictator will have a hard time ignoring the myriad signs of American culture and development.
For Trump and his team, that is exactly the point.
Crowds of young Vietnamese have flocked to cinemas to see Aquaman, the latest Hollywood superhero blockbuster. Apple’s iPhones are a status symbol for the growing middle class, and Facebook is widely used. American pop music such as Ariana Grande’s new single, “7 Rings,” fills coffee shops nationwide.
Beyond American culture, the draw of the United States is on display in other ways, too. When then-President Barack Obama visited Hanoi—Vietnam’s capital and the site for the next round of Trump-Kim talks, on February 27 and 28—and Ho Chi Minh City in 2016, thousands lined the streets of both cities to get a glimpse of his motorcade. The table at the Hanoi restaurant where he dined with the late chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain is encased in plastic, the mise en place set as if they’d just left. Photos of the two men sitting at the table line the walls.
The last time Trump and Kim met, in Singapore this past year, the American president showed the North Korean leader a fictional movie trailer to demonstrate, in truly Trumpian fashion, what could be gained by working with the United States. That argument has underpinned the Trump administration’s push in negotiations with Pyongyang: In essence, if the Kim regime were to denuclearize, it could gain access to untold riches and development—without having to loosen its hold on the country’s politics. (The president repeated this argument on Twitter last week.)