WorldViews

U.S. and North Korean leaders have a long, sharp-tongued history

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

In the 65 years since the Korean War ended, North Korea has had three leaders, and the United States has cycled through 12 presidents. None have met face-to-face.

That was supposed to change sometime this summer, when President Trump and North Korean leader Kim John Un had tenuously agreed to meet. On Thursday morning, North Korea claimed it destroyed it's key nuclear weapons test site. Hours later, Trump cancelled the planned summit.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

The president cited "tremendous anger and open hostility" from North Korea in a letter explaining the abrupt decision, which came days after North Korea said it was reconsidering the summit and that the U.S. must decide whether to "meet us in a meeting room or encounter us at [a] nuclear-to-nuclear showdown."

Past rhetoric between the United States and North Korea has been both optimistically diplomatic and deeply confrontational. Here’s the long, sharp-tongued history both countries are working from.

President Lyndon Johnson

"I hope that the North Koreans will recognize the gravity of the situation which they have created."

AP

Johnson addressed the nation on North Korea’s seizure of the USS Pueblo in 1968. The vessel was captured in the Sea of Japan along with more than 80 crew members who were held for almost a year.

AP

President Richard Nixon

"They got away with it this time, but they'll never get away with it again."

HWG/AP

Those were the words Nixon spoke to Henry Kissinger in 1969 after North Korea shot down a ​U.S.​ ​Navy​ ​reconnaissance​ ​plane​ over the Sea of Japan, ​killing​ ​all​ ​31​ ​crew​ ​members​.

HWG/AP

Former President Jimmy Carter

"He told me he was very grateful I had gone, and thought it was a very fine accomplishment."

Korean Central News Agency/via AP

Then-President Bill Clinton was the grateful one, according to Carter, who traveled unofficially to North Korea years after leaving office to discuss nuclear weapons.

Korean Central News Agency/via AP

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

″America’s symbol is the eagle, a bird that soars, and Korea’s pride is mountains that scrape the sky. There is no obstacle we cannot overcome if we make the strategic decision to do so together.″

David Guttenfelder/AP

In October 2000, Albright made history as the highest-level U.S. official to visit North Korea while holding office. She met with then-leader Kim Jong Il.

David Guttenfelder/AP

President George W. Bush

"I loathe Kim Jong Il. ... I’ve got a visceral reaction to this guy, because he is starving his people."

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP

Bush said that in a 2002 interview with The Washington Post. He made his disdain for North Korean leadership clear in his 2003 State of the Union address as well when he said the country was part of the "axis of evil."

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP

Obama administration

A National Security Council spokeswoman: "While the North Korean Government-controlled media are distinguished by their histrionics, these comments are particularly ugly and disrespectful."

Susan Walsh/AP

That statement, from spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, came in 2014 after the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency published a racist screed calling President Barack Obama a "clown," "dirty fellow" and a "crossbreed with unclear blood."

Susan Walsh/AP

President Trump

"Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!"

Minh Hoang/AP

The now-cancelled summit to discuss denuclearization came after more than a year of Trump and Kim Jong Un hurling insults at each other from afar. For his part, Kim has called Trump a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard."

Minh Hoang/AP