Kristi Noem’s claim in new memoir that she met North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un called into question

South Dakota Governor also claims to have had meeting set up with Emanuelle Macron but his office says she received no ‘direct invitation’ from French president

Andrea Cavallier,John Bowden
Friday 03 May 2024 18:09 BST
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Kristi Noem’s Memoir Sparks Controversy Over Animal Deaths

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has claimed in her new memoir that she met North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un while serving in Congress on the House Armed Services Committee.

Her book, No Going Back, due out on 7 May, has already caused uproar over her account of killing her dog.

And now the governor’s alleged meetings with world leaders, including Kim Jong Un and French President Emmanuel Macron, are being disputed.

According to The Dakota Scout newpaper, neither account has been verified by congressional travel documents or outside sources.

“Through my tenure on the House Armed Services Committee, I had the chance to travel to many countries to meet with world leaders. I remember when I met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un,” Ms Noem wrote in the book.

“I’m sure he underestimated me, having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants (I’d been a children’s pastor, after all). Dealing with foreign leaders takes resolve, preparation and determination. My experiences on those many foreign trips made me a better member of Congress and a stronger governor. It allowed me to hone my deal-making skills, which play a crucial role in leadership.”

Ms Noem served on the House Armed Services Committee from 2013-2015 – and visited China in 2014. However, there is no record of Kim being in China at that time, according to The Dakota Scout.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem claimed in her new memoir that she met North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem claimed in her new memoir that she met North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (Getty Images)

From 2011 to 2018, Mr Kim did not leave North Korea, according to University of Notre Dame professor and North Korea expert George Lopez.

“I don’t see any conceivable way that a single junior member of Congress without explicit escort from the U.S. State Department and military would be meeting with a leader from North Korea,” Mr Lopez said.

“What would have been so critical in his bag of tricks that he would have met with an American lawmaker, this one distinctively?”

Benjamin Young, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and an expert on North Korea, told The Dakota Scout that Ms Noem’s account of meeting Kim was “dubious.”

“I cover North Korea very closely, and I have never heard of Kim Jong Un meeting congressmen or congresswomen,” Mr Young said.

Aside from claiming she met with Kim Jong Un, she also wrote that in 2023, she had a meeting set up with French President Emmanuel Macron but it was canceled.

“While in Paris, I was slated to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron,” Ms Noem wrote in the book. “However, the day before we were to meet he made what I considered a very pro-Hamas and anti-Israel comment to the press. So, I decided to cancel. There is no place for pro-Hamas rhetoric.”

President Macron’s office confirmed to The Dakota Scout that Ms Noem did not receive a “direct invitation” from the French president.

Ms Noem was in Paris for a political conference at the time, and spoke on 10 November, the same day that Macron called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un met with former president Donald Trump in 2019. Experts questioned whether Gov Kristi Noem ever met with him after his claims
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un met with former president Donald Trump in 2019. Experts questioned whether Gov Kristi Noem ever met with him after his claims (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

In a statement to The Independent, Ian Fury, chief of communications for Ms Noem’s office, said: “It was brought to our attention that the upcoming book No Going Back has two small errors. This has been communicated to the ghostwriter and editor. Kim Jong Un was included in a list of world leaders and shouldn’t have been. The Governor spoke with Nikki Haley in 2020 and met with her in 2021.”

“The book has not been released yet, and all future editions will be corrected,” the statement continued. “The media will, of course, try and make these tiny issues huge but will continue to downplay Joe Biden’s repeated and false claims he was in jail with Nelson Mandela, started the civil rights movement, drove an 18 wheeler, and his uncle was eaten by cannibals.”

Regarding the meeting with President Macron, Ms Noem’s office added: “The Governor was invited to sit in President Macron’s box for the Armistice Day Parade at Arc de Triomphe. Following his anti-Israel comments, she chose to cancel.”

Earlier this week, Ms Noem made an attempt to explain putting down their family’s 14-month-old “working dog” Cricket during an appearance on Fox News.

She blamed the “fake news” media for stirring up controversy after she wrote that she killed the animal after a pair of incidents in a single day, where the dog ruined a pheasant hunt by chasing the birds, then “massacred” a neighbour’s chickens.

During an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday, she tried to blame the media for the attention the incident was receiving.

“Well, Sean, you know how the fake news works. They leave out some or most of the facts of a story, they put the worst spin on it. And that’s what’s happened in this case,” Ms Noem told Hannity.

Noem has been touted as a potential Donald Trump running mate in November
Noem has been touted as a potential Donald Trump running mate in November (AP)

“I hope people really do buy this book and they find out the truth of the story because the truth of the story is that this was a working dog and it was not a puppy. It was a dog that was extremely dangerous.”

Ms Noem has spent the past week in damage control mode over the dog-killing story. She has been pilloried by political commentators, Democrats, and anti-Trump Republicans. One Trump ally speculated the anecdote has ruined her once-serious chances of becoming Donald Trump’s running mate.

“The reason it’s in the book is because this book is filled with tough, challenging decisions I’ve had to make throughout my life,” she also told Hannity.

“The point of this story is most politicians, they will run from the truth, they will shy away and hide from making tough decisions. I don’t do either of those.”

This article has been updated to include comments from Ms Noem’s Chief of Communications.

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