Asia Pacific

Trump, Moon discuss North Korea, 'Rocket Man' Kim

by Jesse Johnson

Staff Writer

U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to mock North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Twitter on Sunday, referring to him as “rocket man,” a day after a teleconference with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in over Pyongyang’s continued provocations.

“I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!” Trump tweeted to his 38.5 million Twitter followers in reference to ramped-up U.N. economic sanctions against the isolated nation.

Trump and Moon spoke over the phone Saturday, with the two leaders discussing North Korea’s launch of an intermediate-range missile over Japan on Friday, the second such firing in less than three weeks. The launch also came on the heels of its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, a blast that it claimed was of a hydrogen bomb.

“President Trump and President Moon committed to continuing to take steps to strengthen deterrence and defense capabilities and to maximize economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea,” the White House said in a statement Sunday, adding that the two leaders would continue their close consultations this week when they meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump will host a lunch meeting with Moon and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday in New York, the White House has said, with the three leaders focusing on the rising threat posed by the North.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council approved a tough, new U.S.-drafted sanctions resolution against Pyongyang that included a ban on textile exports and a restriction on shipments of oil products, among other measures.

In response, the North lobbed what it said was a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile over Hokkaido and into the Pacific Ocean on Friday. The missile traveled 3,700 km — the farthest a North Korean missile had ever flown. It was the second launch of a Hwasong-12 over Japan after an earlier firing on Aug. 29.

Kim on Saturday vowed to seek a “final goal” of “equilibrium of force” with the U.S. while also forcing Washington to “dare not talk about” military action over its nuclear and missile programs, state media said.

“Our final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military option,” Kim was quoted as saying by the official Korean Central News Agency during a visit to oversee Friday’s launch.