In a statement issued through the Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded to Trump's incendiary United Nations address, and he did not mince words. Kim said that Trump was "mentally deranged" for threatening to "totally destroy" North Korea in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
In his first speech to the U.N. general assembly as president, Trump described the North Korean leader as a "Rocket Man" who was "on a suicide mission." If North Korea continued to test and develop nuclear weapons, and if the United States is put on the defensive, Trump said he would "have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."
In his KCNA-carried response, Kim lashed out directly and fiercely. He said that Trump is "unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country." He also said that Trump's speech only bolstered his belief in himself as a leader making the right decisions for North Korea. Trump, Kim said, would "pay dearly" for his threats. He did not specify how retribution would potentially take place, but as tensions continue to mount, many are on edge over the very real potential for military conflict.
According to CNN, North Korea has launched 22 missiles since February, with a test on July 4 marking the date of the country's first intercontinental ballistic missile. Verbal exchanges between Trump and Kim have noticeably escalated ever since.
In the latest round, Kim described Trump as "a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician."
"His remarks... have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct," Kim said.
Kim even jeered at Trump for failing to pursue a democratic solution, pointing out that he could have used his speech before the General Assembly as an opportunity to "be helpful to defusing tension." Instead, Kim said, Trump spoke "unprecedented rude nonsense."
Indeed, directly attacking other leaders, or even calling for military intervention, is not entirely unheard of. In 2006, Venezuela's then-president, Hugo Chávez, referred to former President George W. Bush as "the devil." And in 1960, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev literally took off his shoe and banged it on the table in front of him when he disagreed with statements made by a delegate from the Philippines. But still, calling for the total eradication of a member state is volatile, at best. The very first article in the U.N. Charter says that the organization's goal is to "maintain international peace and security," something Trump chose to disregard when addressing the body.
Of course, Trump has historically criticized the international organization in just about every way imaginable. In December 2016, for example, he tweeted that "the United Nations ... is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time." As such, he also arrived late to the General Assembly on the day of his much-anticipated speech, and delivered an address much shorter than is typical of world leaders, ABC reported. Trump only spoke for about four minutes.
Both Kim and Trump have a demonstrated history of disrupting or disregarding diplomatic norms, be it an awkward phone call with the Australian prime minister or the withdrawal from nuclear non-proliferation agreements. But as North Korea relentlessly pursues nuclear capabilities, the stakes carry the potential to be much higher than an exchange of fiery, name-calling speeches.
Kim concluded his statement by saying he "will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire." Whether that means he intends to pursue military action isn't immediately clear, but the world is definitely watching.