U.S. government officials have long said they have little insight into the government workings in North Korea.
Among the many unknowns is this: Does the country have a minister of Insults?
The question took on renewed urgency last September after Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s supreme leader, dismissed President Trump as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” after Trump called him “Rocket Man.” In November, after Kim repeated the “dotard” insult, Trump fired back on Twitter, promising he would never call Kim “short and fat.”
But on Thursday, the two men called a truce after Kim asked Trump for talks — and Trump agreed, South Korea’s national security adviser announced at the White House. The meeting will place by May, assuming they don’t resume trading insults.
North Korea has long been a superpower when it comes verbal attacks.
Almost 50 years ago, North Korea’s Maj. Gen. Pak Chung Kuk called Lyndon Johnson a “war maniac” and a “living corpse.” He predicted that everyone working for the president would burn in hell with John F. Kennedy.
Experts have compared the North Koreans to Shakespeare.
“They love these flowery Shakespearean insults,” said Owen Miller, of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, speaking to the BBC in 2013. “It’s not the kind of insult you hear on the street in South Korea, which is much more earthy — words referring to genitals, for example — the kind of thing you might hear on a drunken Saturday night in London.”
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U.S. presidents have insulted the Kim regime before. President George W. Bush once called Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, a “spoiled child at a dinner table.” But there has not been an Oval Office occupant with quite the same touch for insults as Trump, as “Little Marco Rubio,” “Crooked Hillary” and “Lying Ted Cruz” could attest. Trump has dubbed “Morning Joe” hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and “Pyscho Joe.”
Still, Trump may need help keeping up with the North Koreans, who have set the standard for searing insults. Knowing Trump likes bullet-point presentations, here is a short history of some of the more memorable disses:
President George W. Bush is a …
“political idiot” and “tyrannical imbecile” who lacks “even an iota of elementary reason, morality and ability to judge reality as a human being.” (North Korea statement, 2004.)
Vice President Richard B. Cheney is …
“a most cruel monster and blood-thirsty beast” and a “mentally deranged person” (North Korean spokesman, 2005.)
Hillary Clinton …
“Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.” (Statement from North Korea, 2009.)
President Barack Obama …
“… still has the figure of [a] monkey while the human race has evolved through millions of years. … It would be perfect for Obama to live with a group of monkeys in the world’s largest African natural zoo and lick the bread crumbs thrown by spectators.” (Kim Jung Un, 2014.)
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) …
“That a man mixed in with human dirt like Gardner, who has lost basic judgment and body hair, could only spell misfortune for the United States.” (North Korea spokesman, 2017.)
And what did Gardner do to be insulted over body hair?
He called Kim Jong Un a “whack job.”
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