The Atlantic

Trump's North Korea Policy Earns Praise—From a Former North Korean Diplomat

“The unpredictability has worked to some extent,” says one of the country’s highest-profile defectors.
Source: Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

Thae Yong Ho, one of the highest-ranking officials ever to defect from North Korea, doesn’t agree with those who argue that Donald Trump is recklessly tempting war by threatening and taunting Kim Jong Un.

North Korean leaders perceived past American presidents such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as “very gentle,” Thae told me this week during his first visit to the United States since in South Korea in 2016, and just ahead of Trump’s to South Korea. Now they don’t seem to know what to make of the man at the helm of the United States: “When Trump came up with ‘,’ that kind of [phrase] was never used by any American.” Such unprecedented rhetoric, he argued, is probably one reason to test-fire a missile toward the U.S. territory of Guam. Thae noted that North Korea a nuclear or missile test since Trump that the United States would, if necessary to protect itself or its allies, “totally destroy North Korea” and the “Rocket Man” who runs it.

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