What body language says about POTUS’ historic handshake at the North Korea Summit

Phil Briggs
June 12, 2018 - 2:43 pm

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA


If “handshaking” was a sport, President Trump just won, according to some experts.

During the first-ever US-North Korea Summit in Singapore, the “art of the shake” was on full display, and even without words, there was a lot being said.

We took a closer look at the pictures of the Commander in Chief in action, with Dr. Lillian Glass, Body Language Expert and author of many books including Body Language of Liars and Body Language of Terrorists.

The Power Shake

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

“Trump was in charge, as he was the first to reach out with his handshake,” said Dr. Glass.  

The High Arm Grab

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

While in some martial arts, this could be the start of an attempt to control your opponent, according to Dr. Glass, in the PR game it means something radically different. “When he grabbed Kim's arm it was signal of affection.”

The Game-Face off

It’s been reported that if President Trump smiled in a picture with Kim, that it could be used to Kim's advantage in North Korean propaganda- which is why we found this moment so interesting.

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

Both demonstrating full command of the “Blue Steel” game face, popularized in the Ben Stiller film, Zoolander. (Note the cameo by Donald Trump, in the movie clip below)

The Elbow Touch

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

Similar to the arm grab, this move has multiple uses.  It’s handy when trying to disarm an opponent, but also, according to Dr. Glass, “Touching his elbow was a signal that he was guiding Kim, as in guiding him into the room.” 

The Leading Hand

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

POTUS effectively used this move several times. 

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

The Back Hand

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

Sure it sounds like a strike to the head, that typically leaves the recipient wounded and insulted, but our body language expert said it’s also a deft move to send a much kinder signal. “The touch on the lower back also signified affection and a positive feeling towards Kim,” said Dr. Glass.

Kim also brought the heat with a back hand of his own.

Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

Dr. Glass explained there was also meaning to his gesture, “Kim also put his hand on Trump's arm and back which means he was mirroring Trump … which is a good sign, as when someone mirrors you, it means that they respect and like you.”

While the world waits to see what comes from the agreement signed at this historic summit, based on body language we observed, we’re certain of one thing- there will be a second date.

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