North Korea’s official news agency responded Tuesday to President Trump's controversial “nuclear button tweet,” describing it as the “spasm of a lunatic,” according to the Associated Press.
“Trump’s bluff is regarded by the DPRK as just a spasm of a lunatic frightened by the might of Juche Korea and a bark of a rabid dog,” said the report, which summarized a commentary in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun. DPRK is the abbreviation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name. Juche is the North Korean state ideology, often translated as self-reliance.
“The spasm of Trump in the new year reflects the desperate mental state of a loser who failed to check the vigorous advance of the army and people of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]. . . . He is making [a] bluff only to be diagnosed as a psychopath,” it added.
North Korean media were referring to the U.S. president’s response to Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Day taunt two weeks ago that his nuclear button was always on his desk. Trump tweeted Jan. 3 that his “nuclear button” was “much bigger & more powerful” than the North Korean leader’s. He went on to threaten that the U.S. arsenal “works.”
Pyongyang still agreed later on to high-level talks with Seoul, which has raised hopes of an improvement of relations with South Korea.
But North Korea’s latest mocking of Trump — even though it may not be unusual — certainly won’t help to calm tensions, especially given that Trump has responded to previous North Korean provocations by referring to Kim as “rocket man,” “short and fat” and “madman.”
My colleague Julie Vitkovskaya recently summarized how the Trump-Kim rhetoric escalated in 2017. Here are some excerpts:
Trump’s Jan. 3 tweet about his “nuclear button” drew perhaps the strongest condemnations, as observers from the United States and abroad condemned the remarks as ill-advised and “infantile.”
“Trump plays with the subject so carelessly and recklessly as if it were some kind of video game,” commented Aaron David Miller, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars who has advised several secretaries of state.
In their Tuesday responses to the tweet, North Korean media also appeared to address speculation over President Trump’s mental fitness, which was raised in the controversial “Fire and Fury” book. Trump has rejected the claims made in the book and has boasted about being “like, really smart” and a “very stable genius” in response.