Asia Pacific / Politics

North Korea labels Joe Biden an 'imbecile,' in contrast to effusive praise for Trump

by Jesse Johnson

Staff Writer

North Korea, which has offered effusive praise for U.S. President Donald Trump, delivered a scathing rebuke of one of his top Democratic foes, Joe Biden, for insulting leader Kim Jong Un, calling the former vice president “an imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being, let alone a politician.”

In a commentary published late Tuesday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency blasted Biden, a leading Democratic candidate for president, for having “the temerity to insult the supreme leadership of the DPRK, an intolerable and serious politically motivated provocation.”

DPRK is the acronym for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The KCNA commentary did not specifically detail what Biden had said to incur the wrath of Pyongyang, but the former vice president was quoted as asking supporters at a rally Saturday in Philadelphia if the U.S. is “a nation that embraces dictators and tyrants like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and Kim Jong Un?”

The North is known to be fiercely protective of the Kim family dynasty, which are revered as almost godlike figures, and regards any criticism of them as the gravest of offenses.

“We will never pardon anyone who dare provoke the supreme leadership … but will certainly make them pay for it,” the commentary said.

“Biden had better think back the reason for his past two failures in presidential elections and remember that prudence commensurate with the object is integral to a presidential candidate,” it said.

Biden, it added, “has gone reckless and senseless, seized by ambition for power.”

It also took aim at past controversies involving Biden, including claims he improperly touched women, as well as allegations of plagiarism and falling asleep during a speech by then-President Barack Obama in 2011.

“It is by no means accidental that there is nonstop comment over his bid for candidacy that he is not worth pinning hope on, backed by the jeer that he is a fool of low IQ,” KCNA said.

“Yet, he is self-praising himself as being the most popular presidential candidate,” it added. “This is enough to make a cat laugh.”

Van Jackson, a former Pentagon official and North Korea expert who teaches at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, said that the North’s animosity toward Biden “is deep and guaranteed.”

“It’s underappreciated how ‘hostile’ Obama’s sanctions and military posturing toward Pyongyang were in 2016. Biden 2020 is to Kim Jong Un as (Hillary) Clinton 2016 was to Putin,” Jackson wrote on Twitter, referring to the famously antagonistic relationship between Clinton and the Russian president.

Kim is widely believed to hold a favorable view of Trump, who became the first sitting U.S. president to meet with a North Korean leader during summit talks last June in Singapore. A second summit between the two, held in Vietnam in February, collapsed without a deal due to large differences over the scope of North Korea’s denuclearization and offers of sanctions relief by the U.S.

While the denuclearization talks have stalled since the Hanoi summit breakdown, the Kim regime has refrained from singling out Trump for blame, instead targeting other White House officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.

Trump, for his part, has used surprisingly warm words for Kim, who human rights groups say oversees a vast network of gulags housing some 120,000 political prisoners where systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been reported.

Last year, Trump even said the two” fell in love” during the Singapore summit.

A top North Korean official was also quoted this year as similarly describing the chemistry between the two leaders as “mysteriously wonderful.”