A commentary published in a North Korean state newspaper Thursday calls President Donald Trump a “psychopath” and suggests he would launch a preemptive strike on North Korea to distract from domestic political problems.
The accusations, published in government mouthpiece Rodong Sinmum, come at an especially fraught time. Just two days earlier, Trump had condemned the “brutality of the North Korean regime” after the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea for nearly a year and a half.
The death of Warmbier has considerably strained tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, who have long been at loggerheads over North Korea’s nuclear missile program and the installation of a controversial American missile defense system in South Korea.
The Rodong Sinmum commentary suggests the U.S. government is suffering from its own crisis, which could include “the impeachment of Trump,” and that the president is considering launching a preemptive strike against North Korea because of his “tough situation” at home. The commentary asserts that President Harry Truman entered the Korean War in 1950 in a bid to distract from economic problems in the U.S. and that President Bill Clinton launched a military attack on Iraq in 1998 when faced with an investigation into his sex life.
South Korea should realize that “following psychopath Trump … will only lead to disaster,” the commentary concludes.
The United States and its leaders are often the target of threats and insults from Pyongyang’s official media outlets. However, during the campaign, Trump was largely spared criticism from North Korea. In one instance, a state media outlet praised him as “wise.”
But since entering office, Trump has been on the receiving end of a number of critical commentaries in North Korea’s official media. In May, another state newspaper suggested Trump was ignorant about North Korea, while earlier this month an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman told Korean Central News Agency that Trump’s decision to pull out of an international climate change agreement was “‘the height of egotism.”
While Trump had once spoken about possibly engaging North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un directly, he appears to have stepped back from that approach in recent weeks.
In a tweet posted earlier this week, he suggested he no longer had any faith that China, North Korea’s most significant ally, could influence the actions of Pyongyang anymore. “At least I know China tried!” the president wrote.