The ever-escalating war of words between the United States and North Korea got dialed up to 11 on Wednesday, when an editorial in a state-run newspaper called President Trump a coward who deserved the death penalty.
Rodong Sinmun, a mouthpiece for Kim's ruling Workers' Party of Korea, took aim at Trump, who recently returned from a five-country tour of Asia. While abroad, Trump focused on trade and efforts to halt North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
“The worst crime for which he can never be pardoned is that he dared [to] malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership,” the editorial said, according to Agence France-Presse. “He should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people.”
The editorial also mocked Trump for skipping a visit to the Demilitarized Zone, a 2.5-mile-wide and 160-mile-long strip that divides North and South Korea. Most senior American officials who stop in South Korea spend at least a couple of hours there. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited in March (a North Korean soldier even snapped a selfie); Vice President Pence paid a visit in April.
Trump was scheduled to visit the DMZ. But the helicopter he was riding in had to turn back after five minutes because of inclement weather. The Rodong Sinmun newspaper denounced this excuse as bogus. “It wasn’t the weather,” the editorial said. “He was just too scared to face the glaring eyes of our troops.”
While in Asia, Trump spoke about North Korea on several occasions. In a speech to South Korean lawmakers in Seoul, he denounced the North’s “cruel dictatorship.”
“America does not seek conflict or confrontation. But we will never run from it,” Trump said. “History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America's resolve. Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past, and you will doubt it no longer.”
In response, North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency called Trump a “lunatic old man” who was “lost to sense.” The outlet also urged Americans to oust Trump and suggested that he had “begged for nuclear war.”
Days later, Trump struck back, tweeting, “Why would Kim Jong-Un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat’?" But the American president also suggested that he and Kim might be friends someday.
“I try so hard to be his friend,” Trump tweeted. “Maybe someday that will happen!”