Trump-Kim summit: An up-close look from inside Capella

The Straits Times deputy foreign editor Tan Dawn Wei and executive photojournalist Kevin Lim were at the Capella Singapore to cover the momentous meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The Straits Times deputy foreign editor Tan Dawn Wei and executive photojournalist Kevin Lim were at the Capella Singapore to cover the momentous meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
American and North Korean flags are lined inside the Capella Singapore ahead of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, on June 12, 2018.
American and North Korean flags are lined inside the Capella Singapore ahead of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, on June 12, 2018.ST PHOTO: TAN DAWN WEI

SINGAPORE - Two Straits Times journalists had an up-close view of history being made during the summit on Tuesday (June 12) between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Deputy foreign editor Tan Dawn Wei and executive photojournalist Kevin Lim were among selected journalists allowed inside Capella Singapore on Sentosa, where the momentous meeting was taking place.

 

Here are the moments they witnessed:

5am: Journalists had to go through three layers of checks in order to get a foot in the door into Capella - security checks by Singapore, checks by North Korea, checks by the US. After bags and bodies were scanned, and all laptops and cameras scrutinised, they were then put in a holding room and not allowed to wander around the hotel without an escort.


Police stand close to the media outside the Capella Singapore on June 12, 2018. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

8.02am: An hour before Mr Trump and Mr Kim were set to meet for the first time, journalists were ushered to the courtyard to get into position for a photo op, where the two leaders will shake hands before moving to another location for a second photo. Singapore, North Korea and the US media were all in separate holding rooms.

8.18am: Mr Trump was set to appear from the right of the courtyard and Mr Kim from the left, they were told.

8.26am: The Straits Times confirmed that an 80-year-old Supreme Court conference table once used by Singapore's Chief Justices would be used for the summit.


US President Donald Trump's vehicle arriving at the Capella Singapore. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

8.35am: Mr Trump and Mr Kim arrived at Capella, while reporters at the courtyard vied for prime spots to capture the moment in history.

8.44am: About 10 US cameramen and photographers, five North Korean cameramen and photographers, and five Singapore journalists - spread out at the ground level and a balcony - waited for the two leaders to appear.

8.50am: Security was extremely tight all around Capella. Where there were US agents positioned, there were North Koreans. On the US side, there were quite a few ethnic Korean agents who doubled as translators.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump shaking hands ahead of their historic summit at the Capella Singapore on June 12, 2018. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

9.04am: Mr Trump and Mr Kim greeted each other and shook hands for 12 seconds, as reporters strained to catch the first words spoken by each leader.

The two leaders had appeared from separate doors, synced to the second, and walked towards each other.

"I'm very happy to meet you in Singapore," said Mr Kim in Korean, as Mr Trump patted his arm encouragingly a few times. The two were supposed to walk down the colonnade and enter the library for their one-on-one talk, but stopped to chat shortly after shaking hands.

They were then left alone on the second floor of the library with just their interpreters, while reporters were ushered out of the room.

9.50am: Mr Trump and Mr Kim emerged from one-on-one talks and walked down to the Cassia restaurant, which had been turned into their bilateral meeting space. Asked how discussion went, Mr Trump said: "Very very good, excellent relationship."

10am: Both sides sat down for expanded bilateral meetings. Mr Kim was heard saying that he was willing to work in close cooperation with Mr Trump. It would be challenging, but he was willing to do it, he said. Mr Trump said that he believed he and Mr Kim would "solve a big problem, a big dilemma" and that by working together, "we will get it taken care of".

11.30am: Both sides proceeded to a working lunch featuring beef short-rib confit, soy-braised codfish with radish and Asian vegetables, and dark chocolate tartlet ganache on the menu.


US President Donald Trump pointing out remote cameras planted along the path to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as they stroll through the courtyard of Capella Singapore. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

12pm: Journalists were suddenly ushered out to the courtyard again to get ready for Mr Trump and Mr Kim's post-lunch stroll, where Mr Trump made a surprise comment about signing a deal with Mr Kim shortly.

1.30pm: Journalists were ushered, this time without any warning, into Cassia where the two sides had a bilateral meeting earlier, to watch Mr Trump and Mr Kim sign an agreement, which Mr Kim said signified a "major change", and Mr Trump described as "comprehensive". But no details of the agreement were made available. Mr Trump said he would talk about it at a press conference at 4pm.


US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signing a "comprehensive" document at the end of their summit on June 12, 2018. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM