SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called President Donald Trump “deranged” and said he will “pay dearly” for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon.
Hours later, North Korea’s foreign minister reportedly said his country may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean to fulfill Kim’s vow to take the “highest-level” action against the United States.
Kim, in his statement, said Trump is “unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country.” He also described the U.S. president as “a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire.”
The dispatch was unusual in that it was written in the first person, albeit filtered through the North’s state media, which are part of propaganda efforts meant to glorify Kim. South Korea’s government said it was the first such direct address to the world by any North Korean leader.
Some analysts saw a clear sign that North Korea would ramp up its already brisk pace of weapons testing, which has included missiles meant to target U.S. forces throughout Asia and the U.S. mainland.
“I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK,” said the statement carried by North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Friday morning.
DPRK is the abbreviation of the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters on the sidelines of a United Nations gathering that his country’s response “could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific,” according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Ri reportedly added that “We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un.”
Such a test would be considered a major provocation by Washington and its allies.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera noted such a test could mean a…