In a statement to the Korean-language website of the official Korean Central News Agency on Monday, Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan said that he had read Trump’s Twitter post but that North Korea was not interested in another fruitless meeting.
Though terse, the statement continued a North Korean policy of blaming gridlock in talks with the United States on Washington — as well as a more recent shift that shows the nation again singling out Trump by name.
Despite three meetings between Trump and Kim, “there has not been much improvement in relations with the United States,” wrote Kim Kye Gwan, a veteran diplomat who previously led the North Korean delegation in six-party denuclearization talks.
“We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us,” the statement continued. “As we have got nothing in return, we will no longer gift the U.S. president with something he can brag about, but get compensation for the successes that President Trump is proud of as his administrative achievements.”
The short statement concluded with the argument that if the United States wanted dialogue with North Korea to improve, it must “withdraw from the hostile policy of seeing us as an enemy.”
Despite Trump’s unprecedented decision to meet with Kim in Singapore, Hanoi and the Korean Peninsula’s demilitarized zone, progress on negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang dragged to a halt this year, with disagreement centered on how much of its nuclear program North Korea could give up and when crippling U.S.-led sanctions on the nation would be lifted.
In response, North Korean state media has taken aim at members of the Trump administration it feels contributed to the breakdown.
In April, state media suggested that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should be replaced by someone who “is more careful and mature in communicating.” The following month, it said that John Bolton, then Trump’s national security adviser, was a “structurally defective guy.”
But Trump had avoided the sharp tongues of the North Korean elite. In some cases, even as they criticized his administration, they praised him. “We still cherish our good faith in President Trump,” read a statement released last year, shortly after a disastrous Pompeo visit to Pyongyang.
The tenor has now changed. At the start of October, North Korea reissued an end-of-year timeline for the United States to change its approach to negotiations. And then last week, a statement released by the country’s State Affairs Commission criticized Trump’s statements about North Korean talks.
“We, without being given anything, gave things the U.S. president can brag about but the U.S. side has not yet taken any corresponding step,” the statement said. “Now, betrayal is only what we feel from the U.S. side.”
Since Trump and Kim first met in Singapore on June 12, 2018, the president has spoken of his North Korean counterpart in glowing terms and suggested that the two leaders were on a path to ending the standoff between their nations.
Just one day after that meeting, Trump declared North Korea “no longer a nuclear threat.” But aside from a vague and short statement agreed upon by the pair in Singapore, there has been little agreement between the two, and a second summit in Hanoi broke down with no consensus.
North Korea resumed short-range ballistic missile tests this year, despite the United States and South Korea scaling back military drills in a gesture of goodwill. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper last week announced that the two nations had postponed joint air drills in an attempt to save talks with Pyongyang.
State media in North Korea is known for its acerbic style. At the start of Trump’s presidency, it insulted him in personal terms, dubbing him an “old lunatic” and a “dotard” and prompting the president to respond with his own message that implied Kim was “short and fat.”
Last week, a KCNA commentary took aim at former vice president Joe Biden, a potential rival for Trump in the 2020 election, dubbing him a “rabid dog” who deserves to be beaten to death.
In Trump’s tweet on Sunday, the president said that Biden was not a dog. “He is actually somewhat better than that, but I am the only one who can get you where you have to be,” Trump wrote. “You should act quickly, get the deal done.”