Kristi Noem wrote in her memoir that she’d met Kim Jong Un. Now she’s walking that claim back

South Dakota governor’s has attracted controversy for exaggerated claims

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Sunday 05 May 2024 20:48 BST
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Kristi Noem refuses to comment on dubious Kim Jong Un meeting claim

In her forthcoming memoir No Going Back, South Dakota governor and potential Trump VP pick Kristi Noem seeks to establish a no-nonsense reputation and call out “fake” politicians, but the book is attracting controversy for a series of exaggerated claims Ms Noem makes to establish her own bona fides.

That continued in an interview Sunday with CBS’s Face the Nation, where the Republican leader refused to directly answer if she lied about meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, after a version of No Going Back made such a claim in its pages.

“I’m not going to talk about my specific meetings with world leaders,” she told host Margaret Brennan. “I’m just not going to do that. This anecdote shouldn’t have been in the book and as soon it was brought to my attention, I made sure that that was adjusted.”

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem speaks at the Calvin Coolidge Foundation conference at the Library of Congress on February 17, 2023 in Washington, DC
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem speaks at the Calvin Coolidge Foundation conference at the Library of Congress on February 17, 2023 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

North Korea experts say it’s highly unlikely Ms Noem ever met the North Korean leader.

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

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.

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.”

No Going Back also featured claims Ms Noem turned down an invitation to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, which his office denied.

Beyond the claims about world leaders, the memoir has attracted attention for Governor Noem’s account of killing a young dog on her farm after it misbehaved and ate a neighbors chickens.

The story earned the South Dakota leader a mocking monologue from Stephen Colbert.

Governor Noem claimed the “fake news” was exagerrating the story, and argued she was justified under state law.

“The fact is, South Dakota law states that dogs who attack and kill livestock can be put down,” she wrote on X in April. “Given that Cricket had shown aggressive behavior toward people by biting them, I decided what I did.”

Andrea Cavallier and John Bowden contributed reporting to this story.

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