Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
August 5, 2009

Return of the Diplomats

Clinton-Kim-North-Korea.jpg

Hands down, this photo earns its place in the Obama Administration’s Top 10 pix.

I’m interested in your take on the players and that setting –“stormy” and “crashing” being apt symbols for the Kim Jong-Il regime. What makes the image so profound however, is the visual sense Clinton pulled off a “summit on the fly.” Of course, Kim had his own agenda for the photo op, using the opportunity to try and score some legitimacy. And Clinton wasn’t exactly in town for chit-chat.

Christopher Hill Seoul.jpg

Still, however, when you compare the image up top with a.) years of zero contact and world-wide estrangement spawned by the “Axis of Neocons,” and then b.) more years of regular, but rather painful airport photos of Bush N. Korea envoy Chris Hill, mostly flying in and out of South Korea empty-handed, the Clinton photo serves as the exclamation point on a profound but rather simple concept being transfused into Washington since the inauguration.

It’s called “engagement.”

(image 1: A.P. via Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service/Tokyo. caption: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, seated left, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, seated right, in Pyonggyang, North Korea, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009. Third from left, back row, is former White House chief of staff John Podesta, others are unidentified. Former US President Bill Clinton met Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on the first day of a surprise visit to Pyongyang, holding “exhaustive” talks that covered a wide range of topics, state-run media said. image 2: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images. caption: US nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill talks to reporters upon his arrival at the Incheon international airport, west of Seoul on December 6, 2008. Hill arrived in Seoul for consultations before an expected new round of six-nation talks in Beijing on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.)

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