Over the past year, President Trump and Kim Jong Un of North Korea have traded threats and insults, calling each other “dotard” and “Little Rocket Man,” while simultaneously making plans for a summit in Singapore between the two nations. Oh, and there was also a copy of “The Art of the Deal” delivered by Dennis Rodman.

It’s been hard to keep track of the shifting moods amid the events of the past year, so we classified them into five broad categories. Follow along as we track escalating aggression, easing tensions and everything in between.











2017 2018

Jan. 2, 2017

“It won’t happen!”

After North Korea says it’s developing a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States, then President-elect Trump tweets: “It won’t happen!”

April 30, 2017

A softer approach

Trump calls Kim a “pretty smart cookie” and later says he would be interested in meeting with him.

June 15, 2017

“The Art of the Deal” and diplomacy

On his fifth visit to Pyongyang, former basketball star Dennis Rodman gives Kim a copy of Trump’s “The Art of the Deal.”

July 3, 2017

Another test, another insult

Trump tweets: “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” after North Korea reportedly conducts another missile test.

Aug. 8, 2017

The “Fire and fury” moment

Trump says North Korea will be “met with fire and fury" if it does not stop threatening the United States. North Korea says it might fire missiles that would hit in the proximity of Guam.

Aug. 16, 2017

A timeout

Trump calls Kim’s decision not to fire missiles toward Guam “very wise and well reasoned.”

Sept. 19, 2017

Trump threatens to “totally destroy North Korea”

In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, Trump again threatens to annihilate North Korea if it endangers the United States. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” he says.

Sept. 22, 2017

A new round of name-calling

Kim declares: “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Kim and Trump are acting like “children in a kindergarten.”

Sept. 23, 2017

“Little” Rocket Man

Trump says the North Korean leader is a “Little Rocket Man,” instead of “rocket man.” He repeats that nickname a day later, tweeting “they won't be around much longer” if threats continue.

Nov. 15, 2017

Death sentence

An editorial in a state-run newspaper newspaper says Trump should be sentenced to death for insulting Kim, calling it “the worst crime for which he can never be pardoned.”

Nov. 20, 2017

Back on the list

Trump officially announces that he is putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Nov. 29, 2017

That thing Trump said wouldn’t happen happens

Kim orders the launch of a Hwasong-15 missile. Shortly afterward, North Korean state media claim that an intercontinental missile has been successfully tested and is capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

Dec. 22, 2017

Pressure and more pressure

The UN Security Council votes to impose additional sanctions against North Korea over its missile tests. Trump applauds the decision: “The World wants Peace, not Death!”

Jan. 2, 2018

Battle of the buttons

After Kim says the nuclear launch button is “always on the table,” Trump boasts that his nuclear button is “much bigger…more powerful… and my button works!”

Feb. 25, 2018

Maybe let’s talk, after all?

North Korea is “willing to have talks” with the United States, South Korea says, as the PyeongChang Winter Olympics close in a burst of fireworks and diplomacy.

March 8, 2018

It’s on

Trump agrees to meet Kim for talks, an extraordinary development after months of heightened tension. Kim commits to stopping nuclear and missile testing.

March 27, 2018

A mysterious visitor in Beijing

Kim makes a clandestine visit to Beijing to discuss the negotiations with South Korea and the United States.

April 20, 2018

North Korea suspends nuclear tests

Kim says he will suspend nuclear and missile tests and shut down North Korea’s nuclear test site. But he does not commit to giving up its nuclear program.

April 26, 2018

Kim meets Moon; Trump watches from afar

Kim crosses into South Korea for a historic summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. They pledge to work toward their “common goal” of denuclearizing the peninsula.

April 30, 2018

Nobel Peace Prize chatter

Moon says Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize for the North Korea talks.

May 9, 2018

North Korea releases U.S. prisoners

North Korea releases three American prisoners into the custody of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Pyongyang.

May 16, 2018

What went wrong?

North Korea threatens to pull out of the summit as tensions rise amid joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

May 24, 2018

Trump really pulls out of the summit

Trump cancels the summit after North Korea calls Vice President Pence a “political dummy” and threatens a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.” Meanwhile, North Korea claims it destroyed its testing site.

May 25, 2018


North Korea says it is still willing to negotiate with the United States. South Korea’s Moon calls Trump’s summit cancellation “very perplexing.”

June 1, 2018

Official notification

Trump says the summit will take place June 12 as planned. During a visit to the White House, a North Korean hands Trump a large letter from Kim.

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Monica Ulmanu and Tim Meko contributed to this report.


Post analysis. Photos: AP, Getty Images.

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