North Korea is a country which now has “nothing to lose,” a top official warned on Monday, in a statement rebuffing U.S. President Donald Trump for recent remarks in which he warned leader Kim Jong Un not to escalate mounting tensions between the two countries.
In comments carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim Yong Chol, a senior official on the DPRK ruling party’s Central Committee and Chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, levied a series of insults against the U.S. President, lambasting him as a “frivolous and pitiful old man.”
“The time may come when we must call him ‘a dotard in his dotage’ again,” Kim said, resurrecting an infamous epithet deployed by North Korea at the height of tensions in 2017.
“Trump-ish vanities and pretenses seem a bit abnormal and irrational to our people, and every single word he utters are words we cannot hear without laughing,” he added.
Kim’s remarks come just a day after a series of tweets by President Trump in the wake of news that North Korea had conducted a “very important” test on Sunday, in which the President warned that the DPRK leader has “everything” to lose if he continues to provoke the United States and “acts in a hostile way.”
They also come in response to comments by the President during a NATO summit in London last week, in which he appeared to resurrect the possibility of U.S. military action against North Korea should Kim not make good on his alleged June 2018 commitment to denuclearize.
Kim Yong Chol on Monday said Pyongyang “cannot hide our disappointment” with Trump’s position, suggesting that leader Kim Jong Un may soon change his “perception of Trump” as well.
“Trump has so much he does not know about North Korea,” he said. “We are the people who have nothing more to lose.”
“Even if the U.S. steals something away from us, [it] cannot steal away our unrelenting self-esteem, our power, and our anger towards the U.S.,” Kim continued, reminding the U.S. that North Korea’s self-declared end of year deadline for diplomacy to produce results is “approaching.”
That deadline, which expires at the end of the month, is set to come just a few days after a recently-announced plenum of the North Korean ruling party’s Central Committee, widely expected see the country’s leadership discuss a new, more hardline, strategic line in dealing with the U.S.
North Korea has already in recent weeks suggested that nuclear talks, stalled since a no-deal Stockholm meeting between the two countries in October, are now in their death throes, with the country’s ambassador to the UN over the weekend saying that the country was no longer willing to discuss denuclearization with the U.S.
Asked to respond to those remarks on Sunday, U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien insisted that Washington continues to pursue diplomacy with North Korea, while adding that it has “plenty of tools in the toolkit” should the North Korean leader renege on his commitment to denuclearize.
But senior official Kim Yong Chol on Monday urged President Trump to invest his time in “earnest worry and calculations” for a potential upcoming “clash” between the two countries, instead of “making ridiculous and threatening expressions.”
“Buying time is not an excellent prescription,” he concluded, warning that if the U.S. is not “courageous,” the U.S. will end up “watching with anxiety the reality in which the threat to its security increases with the passage of time.”
One expert suggested that Monday’s appearance by Kim Yong Chol — a high-level official but not one formally tied to the North Korean foreign ministry — suggested that, despite its strong language, Pyongyang is keen to keep its options open as the new year looms.
“As it was addressing Trump’s remarks, Pyongyang could have responded with a higher-level pronouncement, so this is a sign of North Korea exercising some restraint in order not to escalate tensions too much,” Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News‘s sister site NK Pro, said.
“It also leaves room for last-minute U.S. action before the year-end deadline, by reminding the U.S. that the clock is ticking, and that it had better spend more time worrying about its course of action rather than threatening North Korea,” she added.
“The bad news, and one that is not surprising, is that Kim reiterates North Korea’s stance that the ball is not in its court but in Washington’s.”
Edited by Colin Zwirko
Jeongmin Kim contributed translation
Featured image: White House, file photo