Regime-run newspaper says US president is ‘hideous criminal’ after he said North was a ‘cruel dictatorship’ and Kim ‘short and fat’. Meanwhile, Trump says he’d never call Kim ‘short and fat’ in response to ‘old’ barb.
The US president tweets he tries ‘so hard to be his friend’ in a year spent trading escalating threats with the North Korean leader.
Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had insulted him by calling him “old” and said he would never call Kim “short and fat.”
An editorial in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun focused its anger on Trump’s visit to South Korea last week, during which he denounced the North’s “cruel dictatorship” in a speech to legislators in Seoul.
Since becoming president, Trump has engaged in an escalating war of words with Kim Jong-un, trading personal insults and threats of military strikes and raising concerns about an outbreak of hostilities.
Towards the end of his Asia tour, he sent a tweet from Hanoi that took the verbal jousting to a new level, taunting the North Korean leader over his height and weight.
“Why would Kim Jong-Un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat’?” he tweeted.
The members of the ruling Kim dynasty – past and present – enjoy near god-like status in North Korea, which has demonstrated extreme sensitivity to any remark that might be seen as mocking or disrespectful of the leadership.
The editorial also took a dig at Trump’s failure to tour the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas – a traditional stop-off for senior US officials visiting the South.
Trump’s helicopter taking him to the DMZ had turned back after just five minutes due to bad weather – an explanation the newspaper dismissed.
“It wasn’t the weather,” the editorial said: “He was just too scared to face the glaring eyes of our troops.”
Meanwhile, asked if he [Trump] could see himself being friends with Kim, Trump said: “That might be a strange thing to happen but it’s a possibility. If it did happen it could be a good thing, I can tell you, for North Korea, but it could also be good for a lot of other places and be good for the rest the world. It could be something that could happen. I don’t know if it will but it would be very, very nice.”
Trump has traded insults and threats with Kim in the past amid escalating tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on September 3, prompting another round of UN sanctions.