This article originally appeared on VICE US.
With a self-imposed deadline to reach a nuclear deal with the U.S. looming, North Korea just keeps lobbing insults at President Trump.
This time they pulled back on the infamous “dotard” insult but pretty much went there anyway by calling him a “heedless and erratic old man.”
It wasn’t exactly unprovoked: In a series of tweets Sunday discussing denuclearization, Trump warned supreme leader Kim Jong Un against abandoning their “special relationship” and acting in a “hostile way.” And apparently North Korea didn’t appreciate the president dishing out advice to Kim on social media.
Kim Yong Chol, a senior North Korean official and former nuclear negotiator, said in a statement that Trump is an “old man bereft of patience” whose words make clear “how irritated he is now.”
Kim Yong Chol then indicated ― as North Korean officials also said last week ― they’re willing to once again call Trump a “dotard.”
“As he is such a heedless and erratic old man, the time when we can not but call him a ‘dotard’ again may come,” Kim Yong Chol said in the statement.
It’s somewhat odd North Korea is only threatening to call Trump a dotard when “heedless and erratic old man” is effectively the definition of the arcane insult. North Korea first called the president a “dotard” in 2017 and it quickly went viral, mostly because people weren’t sure what it meant. Regardless, North Korea warned Trump not to mess with a country with its back against the wall.
“We have nothing more to lose,” Kim Yong Chol said. “Though the U.S. may take away anything more from us, it can never remove the strong sense of self-respect, might and resentment against the U.S. from us. Trump said that if we undertake an action, he would be surprised, and of course he will be astonished.”
The whole statement directly rebutted Trump’s tweets calling for Kim to denuclearize.
“Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way,” Trump wrote. “He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore. He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November.”
The rhetorical barbs between the U.S. and North Korea have ramped up as Kim’s end-of-year deadline to reach a nuclear deal with the U.S. draws ever closer. Trump dusted off his “Rocket Man” nickname for the dictator at the NATO summit last week, which led North Korea to threaten to revive their “dotard” insult on Thursday.
Cover: A cake depicting US President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un on display during Cake International 2019 at the NEC, Birmingham, Nov. 1, 2019. See PA story SOCIAL Cake. Jacob King/PA Wire URN:48014726 (Press Association via AP Images)