Trump Asks China to Cut Ties With Kim and Calls North Korea ‘Hell’By and
Trump speaks to South Korea parliament about the threat
Says all nations must stop giving aid to North Korea now
Get the latest on our coverage of Trump in Asia and the world leaders' meeting in Vietnam in your inbox daily. Sign up here.
President Donald Trump called on the world to abandon support for Kim Jong Un’s regime, saying the dictator has turned North Korea into “a hell that no person deserves.”
Calling out by name Russia and China -- where Trump visits next -- he said that all responsible nations must join forces to deny Kim’s regime any form of support, supply, or acceptance. He offered a stinging attack on Kim himself, reeling of a litany of alleged human-rights abuses and calling him a “deranged tyrant” presiding over a “cult.”
"The longer we wait, the greater the danger grows, and the fewer the options become,” Trump said at South Korea’s National Assembly, in the first address to the legislature by an American president in nearly a quarter-century. “And to those nations that choose to ignore this threat -- or, worse still, to enable it -- the weight of this crisis is on your conscience."
Rallying the world to stand up to the North Korean threat is the central mission of Trump’s trip to Asia. Trump spoke just hours before his first trip as president to China, where he will visit the Forbidden City ahead of a private dinner with President Xi Jinping and their spouses.
On Tuesday, Trump appeared to temper his often fiery rhetoric toward North Korea, instead calling for it to “make a deal” on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Trump on Wednesday said he’s ready to offer North Korea “a path to a much better future” if it puts an end to aggression, stops development of ballistic missiles and undergoes “complete, verifiable and total denuclearization.”
Still, he also gave a warning to Kim directly, noting that the U.S. has aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines nearby. He said he wants “peace through strength" and gave a forceful assurance the U.S. would back South Korea and their security alliance -- something the South Koreans had sought ahead of the trip.
“We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked,” Trump said. “We will not allow American cities to be threatened. We will not be intimidated."
The president’s address featured a graphic catalog of the suffering of the people of North Korea, with Trump denouncing policies targeting those seen as disloyal or genetically inferior. One of the anecdotes was targeted directly at China, the main ally and financial backer of Kim’s regime.
Trump told a story of a baby born in North Korea to a Chinese father that he said was taken away in a bucket, with the soldiers telling the mother the baby did not deserve to live because of its Chinese heritage. "So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?" Trump asked.
Trump accused the North Korean regime of diverting humanitarian aid to build tributes to its leaders, arbitrarily imprisoning citizens, and forcing tens of thousands to live in work camps. He described one refugee who said he lived “more like an animal” than a human while in North Korea.
“The horror of life in North Korea is so complete that citizens pay bribes to government officials to have themselves exported aboard as slaves,” Trump said. “They would rather be slaves than live in North Korea.”
A 2014 United Nations report on human rights in North Korea described similar horrors, including the story of a mother forced to drown her own baby and of a man who had to burn corpses of prisoners and scatter their remains on crops. The report was based on accounts from sources including defectors, former regime officials and survivors of political prison camps.
The U.S. president contrasted conditions in North Korea with those in the South, saying the world had observed “the results of a tragic experiment in a laboratory of history” in the Communist nation. “It is a tale of one people, but two Koreas,” Trump said.
At one point in the speech, he noted that this is the one-year anniversary of his election and included his usual litany of accomplishments -- a record-high stock market, low unemployment and even his appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. He also noted that a Korean women golfer won at this year’s U.S. Open -- held at Trump’s Bedminster golf course.
Outside the speech, a large group of pro-Trump advocates, including many veterans of the Korean conflict, were brought in by bus, while a smaller group of anti-Trump protesters also gathered on the other side of the boulevard.
White House aides said they saw the South Korea speech as an opportunity for Trump to call on the international community to join together to maximize pressure on North Korea.
— With assistance by David Tweed, Kanga Kong, and Andy Sharp