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Pyongyang minister calls Trump a ‘dog’

Sept 22,2017
U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent threat to “totally destroy” North Korea is like “the sound of a dog’s bark,” Pyongyang’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said on Wednesday as he arrived in New York for the UN General Assembly.

Speaking to reporters outside his hotel, Ri continued the canine metaphor, saying it was a “dog’s dream” to believe North Korea would be surprised by Trump’s speech, and that he felt sorry for Trump’s aides because they were “working for a dog.”

In the Korean context, a “dog’s dream” refers to a silly fantasy that barely has any chance of becoming realized.

The remarks came one day after Trump addressed the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, using the opportunity to threaten North Korea.

“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said, using a nickname he has recently picked up for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The threat was toned down shortly after, when U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, addressing an annual Air Force conference Wednesday in Washington, said the White House was keeping the “diplomatic track out in front” when dealing with North Korea. “My portfolio, my mission, my responsibility is to have military options should they be needed.”

He added that through U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, “you can see the American effort is diplomatically led. It has diplomatic traction. It is gaining diplomatic results.”

Mattis also said, “The tragedy of war is well enough known. It doesn’t need another characterization beyond the fact that it would be catastrophic,” and that the recent passing of UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea “shows where the Trump administration goes in terms of prioritizing of the threat” and how to deal with the issue in a “diplomatically effective manner.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke at the UN Wednesday, less than a week after a North Korean ballistic missile flew over his country, seeking support for more pressure on Pyongyang, saying now is not the time for dialogue.

It was a slap in the face for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who said he appreciated UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ efforts to bring North Korea back to the discussion table during a meeting with him Monday.

The Moon government also gave the green light for an $8 million aid package to North Korean children and mothers on Thursday, separating humanitarian assistance from political and military affairs.

Mentioning the six-party talks of North Korean denuclearization, which involved Seoul, Pyongyang, Washington, Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow before the North walked out in 2009, Abe recalled the regime as having “no intention whatsoever of abandoning its nuclear or missile development,” according to transcripts from The Japan Times. “For North Korea, dialogue was instead the best means of deceiving us and buying time.”

Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of South Korea and China held a bilateral meeting in New York on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and agreed that North Korea’s provocations were a “serious threat” to the regional security, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]