Trump has called Kim “short and fat” and “a sick puppy.” At the U.N. in September, he lampooned Kim as “Rocket Man … on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” Kim replied by calling Trump “mentally deranged” and a “dotard.” North Korea’s foreign minister then warned of a possible atmospheric nuclear test — done by no nation since 1980.
Diplomacy isn’t dead, however. The Trump administration was quick to restore a back channel for talks between the State Department and North Korea that disappeared in President Barack Obama’s final months. The U.S. envoy on North Korea, Joseph Yun, secretly met North Korean officials in Oslo in May to press for the release of Americans imprisoned in Pyongyang.
Various officials have said that meeting could have augured more substantive U.S.-North Korean talks.
But the only release was college student Otto Warmbier, who had suffered brain damage in detention and died days after his return. Warmbier’s shocking condition ended any hopes of a thaw. Trump tweeted angrily and Pyongyang promptly stepped up its weapons tests.