In this occasional series, The Washington Post brings you up to speed on some of the biggest stories of the week. This week: President Trump and Kim Jong Un may finally meet face-to-face.
The biggest story: Kim Jong Un wants to be seen as Donald Trump’s equal. A meeting would do that.
Just by sitting down with President Trump, Kim Jong Un would get what he craves the most: legitimacy.
He wants to be treated as an equal by the global superpower, and a photo opportunity with the most powerful leader in the free world would go a long way to helping him achieve that.
“This is what his father and his grandfather wanted: to be on the same footing as the world’s greatest power,” said Van Jackson, a former Pentagon official who now teaches at Victoria University in New Zealand.
“A meeting with the American president has for decades been considered the prize at the end of a successful denuclearization process, not an incentive to get the process started, and neither Kim’s father nor grandfather made it to that finish line,” he added. “So I have to grudgingly take my hat off to him because he’s played a very poor hand brilliantly to get there.”
Meanwhile, Joby Warrick and Julie Vitkovskaya offer up an explainer on North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
Five other important stories
1. Young Russians are Vladimir Putin’s biggest fans.
On March 18, Russians will go to the polls to confirm a fourth presidential term for the 65-year-old former KGB officer who turned this country’s young, chaotic democracy into an authoritarian system beholden to his rule. He has batted back the opposition thanks to his control over Russia’s main television channels, the security services and the judiciary — but also because, as even many of his opponents acknowledge, most of the country supports him.
According to a December survey by independent polling firm Levada Center, 81 percent of adults approve of Putin as president — including 86 percent of Russians 18 to 24 years old. Among that age group, 67 percent told Levada they think the country is going in the right direction, compared with 56 percent of the general public.
The most internationally connected generation in Russian history, with access to more information than any of their predecessors, is now helping Putin solidify his authoritarianism.
2. Hundreds of Canadian doctors demand lower salaries.
In a move that can only be described as utterly Canadian, hundreds of doctors in Quebec are protesting their pay raises, saying they already make too much money. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 700 physicians, residents and medical students from the Canadian province had signed an online petition asking for their pay raises to be canceled, writes Amy B Wang.
3. Women in Iran are pulling off their headscarves — and hoping for a ‘turning point.’
Iranian women have been raising a new challenge to their Islamic government, breaking one of its most fundamental rules by pulling off their headscarves in some of the busiest public squares and brandishing them in protest, Erin Cunningham in Istanbul writes.
4. Japanese towns struggle to deal with an influx of new arrivals: wild boars.
Across Japan, wild boars are moving in as the country's rapidly aging population either moves out or dies out. The boars come for the untended rice paddies and stay for the abandoned shelters.
“Thirty years ago, crows were the biggest problem around here,” said Hideo Numata, a farmer in Hiraizumi, human population 7,803, precise boar population unknown. “But now we have these animals and not enough people to scare them away.”
5. Brazilian gang loots $5 million in an airport heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.
Police said the gang, using cars that were painted to resemble airport security vehicles, tore past two gates and drove into the cargo section of Viracopos Airport, 60 miles outside Sao Paulo. They attacked two security guards and stuffed them into a van, then invaded the tarmac and drove up to a parked Lufthansa plane just as employees were transferring bags of cash into an armored vehicle. The group drove out of the airport with $5 million in cash before police arrived. Nobody was arrested.