MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he has changed his opinion of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after the latter agreed with South Korea to end their decades old war.
“Naging idol ko tuloy siya, si Kim Jong Un. All the time he was pictured to be the bad boy. But with one master stroke he is now the hero of everybody,” Duterte said in Davao City upon arriving from Singapore where he attended the 32nd ASEAN leaders summit.
“I hope he remains to be that way, because no one really is after him. I think to me, the man of the hour would be Kim Jong Un.”
Kim and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in recently issued a declaration on "the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean peninsula."
Upon signing the document, the two leaders shared a warm embrace, the culmination of a summit filled with smiles and displays of friendship in front of the world's media.
They also agreed that they would this year seek a permanent end to the Korean War, 65 years after the hostilities ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
Moon will visit Pyongyang in "the fall," the two leaders said, also agreeing to hold "regular meetings and direct telephone conversations."
"Some day if I get to meet him, I’d like to congratulate him," Duterte said, referring to Kim.
"Sabihin ko sa kaniya, ‘Bilib ako sayo, marunong ka mag-timing.’ Heroism is sometimes left to chance, otherwise it’s purposely timed.
"Ituring na lang niya akong isang kaibigan."
—With a report from AFP