After a week of tough talk from President Trump on North Korea, the reclusive state's supreme leader Kim Jong Un fired back in a rare statement that threatened the US and slammed Trump as a mentally deranged "dotard."
Trump on Sunday disparagingly called Kim "Rocket Man" in a tweet. Then on Tuesday, he said if forced, the US would "totally destroy" North Korea. And on Thursday, at a lunch with the leaders of Japan and South Korea, Trump announced any individual or entity that trades with North Korea would face sanctions.
"Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime," Trump said at the UN.
The war of insults continued Thursday with a fiery statement from Kim carried by North Korean state media, calling Trump's UN speech "unprecedented rude nonsense." The personal statement from Kim was in itself rare, experts on North Korea noted.
"A frightened dog barks louder," Kim said.
The North Korean leader cautioned Trump to speak more carefully, particularly when on the world stage.
"He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician," Kim said.
The heightened rhetoric comes weeks after an explosion in North Korea appeared to be a nuclear weapons test. North Korean media claimed it was an advanced hydrogen bomb which could be fitted onto an intercontinental ballistic missile and sent to the US.
North Korea has also said it's reviewing its military plans for an attack on Guam, and Trump, as well as Secretary of Defense James Mattis, have said threats to the US will be met with a "massive military response."
On Thursday, the North Korean dictator, who has previously made threats against perceived US "aggression," in addition to conducting regular missile tests, added that he would not back down.
"Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history," Kim said.
Speaking to reporters in New York, North Korea's foreign minister said that could mean a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean, Yonhap News reported.
"It could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific," foreign minister Ri Yong-ho told reporters. "We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong-un."
In his statement, the North Korean dictator added that he would make Trump "pay dearly" for the speech, though he did not specify what form that might take.
"Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation," Kim said. "I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire."
The war of words between Trump and Kim showed no signs of letting up on Friday, with Trump branding the North Korean a leader "a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people" during his early morning Twitter screed, adding he will be "tested like never before."
Here's the full text of Kim's statement:
The speech made by the U.S. president in his maiden address on the UN arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.
Shaping the general idea of what he would say, I expected he would make stereo-typed, prepared remarks a little different from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world's biggest official diplomatic stage.
But, far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors.
A frightened dog barks louder.
I'd like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.
The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to "totally destroy" a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.
His remarks remind me of such words as "political layman" and "political heretic" which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign.
After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.
His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.
Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.
Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.
As a man representing the DPRK and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK.
This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump.
I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue.
Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation.
I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U. S. dotard with fire.
Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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