A Brief History of North Korea's Insults Toward World Leaders

Sep 22, 2017

The war of words continues to escalate between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who on Thursday referred to the head of state as a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard." This most recent barb followed Trump's remarks at his debut address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where he warned that the U.S. would "totally destroy North Korea" if forced to defend itself or its allies.

It is rare to hear such language from an American leader, but not so from Pyongyang. State-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has been the vessel for many an insult over the years, directed toward world leaders, close relatives and Hollywood stars. Here's a look back at some of the North Korean regime's most memorable snubs.

"Dirty Fellow"

Pyongyang took aim at then-President Barack Obama in May 2014, when KCNA ran a headline, reading: "Divine retribution for the juvenile delinquent Obama!" According to the Washington Post, the ensuing diatribe, published only in Korean, employed a litany of racially-infused slurs. The collection of quotations attributed to citizens referred to Obama as "a clown," a "dirty fellow," and suggested that he go "live with a group of monkeys in the world’s largest African natural zoo and lick the breadcrumbs thrown by spectators.” The racist propaganda elicited a sharp rebuke from Obama's White House, the Post reports. Obama again became the target of racist insults in December 2014, when Pyongyang accused him of interrupting the country's Internet services amid the Sony Pictures hacking controversy, which saw confidential data stolen and leaked amid demands that the company pull the plug on the film The Interview, a comedy about an assassination plot against Kim Jong Un.

"Old, Insane Bitch"

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has also found herself in the crosshairs of North Korean propaganda, and as the South's first female head of state the affronts commonly zeroed in on her gender. According to the Guardian, an official statement from Pyongyang in April 2014 described Park as a "crafty prostitute" after she met with Obama during his recent visit to the capital Seoul. The statement reportedly referred to her as Obama's "comfort woman," a reference that would have been deeply insulting to women in South Korean, where anger still runs deep over the enslavement of thousands of women by Japanese soldiers during the second World War. The comments, reportedly attributed to a cross-border affairs department called the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, further said Park "reminds one of an indiscreet girl who earnestly begs a gangster to beat someone or a capricious whore who asks her fancy man [pimp] to do harm to other person while providing sex to him."

Then again, in February 2016, KCNA report derided Park as a "old, insane bitch" headed for “a sudden and violent death” shortly after she condemned the North's most recent nuclear test. The Associated Press reports that the remarks appeared to elevate Pyongyang's rhetoric to a new level, targeting her in crude, sexual terms.

"By No Means Intelligent"

Before the reign of Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang's propaganda machine was already humming. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was referred to as "a funny lady," who is "by no means intelligent," the New York Times reports. In a statement, North Korea's foreign ministry responded to Clinton's recently made comments calling on world leaders to pressure Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program, calling her "unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community." The ministry further said Clinton occasionally resembles either a "schoolgirl" or a "pensioner going shopping."

"Tricksters"

The administration of former President George W. Bush garnered particular disdain from North Korea, which once referred to the lot as “a bunch of tricksters and political imbeciles who are the center of a plot breeding fraud and swindle," according to Reuters. Bush's Vice President Dick Cheney also copped his share criticism. In 2005, North Korea called Cheney "a most cruel monster and blood-thirsty beast" and a "mentally deranged person," Reuters reports. The Vice President had reportedly referred to the country's former leader, Kim Jong Il, as among "the world’s most irresponsible leaders" during an interview with CNN, the AP reports. Also that year, as negotiations surrounding the six-party nuclear disarmament talks fell apart, the Washington Post reported that a foreign ministry statement called Bush a "dictator" and "a half-baked man in terms of morality and a philistine whom we can never deal with."

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