North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un escalated a dangerous war of words between Pyongyang and Washington on Friday, calling President Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and warning that the U.S. will “face results beyond his expectation.”
Kim, in an exceptionally rare, 500-word statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, personally hit back against Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
In the speech, Trump called Kim “Rocket Man” and vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea if the U.S. were forced to defend itself or its allies. In August, Trump had said that if Pyongyang continued to threaten the U.S., North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Kim criticized Trump’s U.N. speech for worsening North Korea-U.S. tensions, according to the statement. He added that U.S. president “is arousing worldwide concern.”
“After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world,” Kim continued. “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.”
Trump’s remarks have convinced Kim “that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last,” he said.
Kim presided over North Korea’s largest nuclear test on Sept. 3 amid harsh U.N. sanctions and a chorus of international censure. He has launched dozens of missiles in pursuit of the technical ability to strike the continental U.S. with a nuclear-tipped warhead.
Although North Korean state media refer to Kim constantly, they rarely carry full statements in his name. Analysts said the statement underscores North Korea’s concern that the U.N. served as the platform for Trump’s remarks, despite the country’s often-belligerent rhetoric.
“It’s quite significant [to North Korea] that the U.S. president made these remarks officially before the international community,” said John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University in Seoul. “That setting is meaningful. I think Kim Jong Un himself and the North Koreans themselves thought, ‘This requires a different kind of response.’”
“Don’t forget there’s a domestic context to that speech,” he continued. “Kim is speaking to an international audience, but he’s also speaking to a domestic audience. He’s saying, ‘This guy just threatened to totally destroy us — to destroy you, North Korea. And I’m not gonna stand for it.’”
North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N., Ja Song Nam, reportedly protested Trump’s U.N. speech by leaving the room.
North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, will give a speech at the U.N. on Friday. “If [Trump] was thinking he could scare us with the sound of a dog barking, that's really a dog dream,” he told reporters Wednesday.
Ri was then asked about “Rocket Man,” Trump’s new nickname for Kim.
“I feel sorry for his aides,” he responded.
7:45 p.m.: This article has been updated with comments from John Delury and Ri Yong Ho.
This article was originally published at 4:25 p.m.