By Joanne Kim and Heidi Cho
Staff Writer and Nation & World Editor
The Trump administration acknowledged on Saturday, Sept. 30, that there are direct communications with North Korea after escalating verbal and military threats, according to The New York Times.
President Donald Trump said on Sept. 19 that the United States could “totally destroy” North Korea during the U.N. General Assembly. Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is on a “suicide mission,” according to The Washington Post.
“Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” Trump tweeted on Sept. 21.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho considered that tweet a declaration of war, according to CNN.
“The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” Ri said, according to The Washington Times. “The question of who won’t be around much longer will be answered then.”
Ri is under the assumption that North Korea will have every right to make countermeasures for future actions. That includes the right to shoot down the United States’ strategic bombers, even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country, according to CNN.
This is in reference to the U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers that flew the closest America has to North Korea in a century. The show of force on Sept. 23 was a demonstration of the range of military options available to Trump to deal with North Korea, according to CNN.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the United States has not declared war on North Korea and called the suggestion “absurd,” according to CNN.
In a rare public statement on Sept. 22, Kim said that he would tame Trump, the “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” with fire, according to The Washington Post.
Trump responded on Sept. 22 by calling Kim a “madman” during a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, according to The Guardian.
The schoolyard-level taunts have only aggravated the tense relationship between North Korea and the United States, but the three new channels of direct communication could ease the atmosphere, according to The New York Times.
“I think everyone would like for it to calm down,” Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said, according to The New York Times.
Tillerson’s sentiment is not shared by Trump, who further mixed signals by tweeting that Tillerson “is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.”