NATIONAL

No ‘fire and fury’: Trump softens tone on North Korea

By Yeo Jun-suk
  • Published : Nov 7, 2017 - 21:31
  • Updated : Nov 7, 2017 - 21:33

Prior to Donald Trump’s first state visit to South Korea on Tuesday, concern was rampant here that the US president might make harsh remarks toward North Korea -- right at the doorstep of the rogue regime -- and escalate military tensions on the Korean Peninsula once again.

But there were no threats of “totally destroying” North Korea with “fire and fury” during his first day in South Korea -- nor did the president use the derogatory nickname “Little Rocket Man” to mock North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In fact, he made no reference to the North Korean leader throughout his joint press conference with President Moon Jae-in in Seoul.

In a notable shift in tone, Trump painted an optimistic view of resolving North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, suggesting he has seen a “a lot of progress” on the standoff and it would be “worked out ultimately.” 

US President Donald Trump. Yonhap

“I do see certain movement ... and let’s see what happens,” Trump said during a news conference alongside President Moon. “I believe it makes sense for North Korea to do the right thing not only for North Korea, but for humanity all around the world.”

“Imagine the amazing possibilities of the Korean Peninsula liberated from the threat of nuclear war -- where all Koreans could enjoy the blessing of liberty and prosperity you have achieved right here in South Korea,” he added.

Trump even signaled his willingness to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear program, urging Pyongyang to “come to the table” to “make a deal” and highlighting the move would benefit both North Korea and the world.

When asked about whether he would pursue direct talk with North Korea, Trump, however, declined to comment. Before making his trip to South Korea, he told Full Measure TV show he is open to sitting down one-on-one with any dictators including Kim Jong-un.

Regarding the possible use of military force against North Korea, Trump said “we hope to God we never have to use” them, while reiterating that US is prepared to use the military force if necessary and aircraft carriers a nuclear submarine are heading toward the region.

“We have sent three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world and a nuclear submarine also positioned. We have many things happening that we hope, in fact, I’ll go further, we hope to God, we never have to use.”

He demonstrated an optimistic tone before holding a summit with Moon. During his visit to Camp Humphreys, the main US Army garrison in South Korea, Trump told reporters that the current standoff with North Korea “will all work out and has to work out.”

By Yeo Jun-suk (jasonyeo@heraldcorp.com)