President Donald Trump raised eyebrows again during the course of praising North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un Friday morning.
In an impromptu interview with Fox News' "Fox & Friends," Trump praised Kim's strength as a leader, and said, "Hey, he is the head of a country and I mean he is the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same."
Trump praises Kim Jong Un and wishes Americans were as compliant to their leader as North Koreans: "He is the stron… https://t.co/BTNjSOvSaJ— Zack Ford (@Zack Ford) 1529066991.0
When pressed by a reporter as to what he meant by this remark, Trump insisted, "I'm kidding. You don't understand sarcasm. Who are you with? You're with CNN? Hey, you are the worst."
What did you mean just now when you said you wished Americans would sit up at attention when you spoke? TRUMP: I'm… https://t.co/eWdn6FFS22— Zack Ford (@Zack Ford) 1529068458.0
What's the background?
North Korean people stand at attention for Kim Jong Un because they will be shot if they don't. Kim underlines the point by publicly executing his own cabinet officials who don't pay enough deference to him in cabinet meetings. His favorite method of doing so, reportedly, is to publicly shoot them at point-blank range with an anti-aircraft gun.
Tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or imprisoned in North Korea since Kim took power in North Korea for failing to show sufficient deference to the dictator — the exact figures are difficult to pinpoint because North Korea does not allow either a free press or human rights groups to operate openly within its borders.
One way that you can end up being killed, tortured, or thrown in prison by being insufficiently deferential to Kim is by being Christian, which is considered a rebellion against both the communist doctrine of the country and the cult of personality around Kim himself. Human rights groups estimate that as many as 70,000 Christians are currently held in inhumane conditions in prison camps in North Korea, where they are killed and occasionally publicly executed for their faith.
Was there anything else?
During the impromptu media gaggle that followed the "Fox & Friends" interview, Trump seemed to admit he was glossing over human rights violations by the North Korean regime, and insisted that it was necessary for him to do so in order to avert nuclear war.
Reporter: "You're defending now Kim Jong Un's human rights records. How can you do that?" .@POTUS: "You know why?… https://t.co/fDRmn5fEOH— Fox News (@Fox News) 1529068337.0
When an unidentified reporter asked him why he was "defending Kim Jong Un's human rights records," Trump responded, "You know why? Because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family."
Trump continued, "I want to have a good relationship with North Korea... if you remember, if you're fair, and most of you aren't, but if you're fair, when I came in people thought we were probably going to war with North Korea. If we did, millions of people would have been killed. ... I came in, that was what I inherited. I should have never inherited that. It should have been solved long before I got there. I did a great job this weekend."
Trump went on to praise the "great chemistry" he had with Kim and listed what he considered to be his administration's accomplishments in containing the North Korean regime.
"You haven't had a missile test in seven months. You haven't had a firing, a nuclear test in eight and a half months. You haven't had missiles flying over Japan," he said. "He gave us the remains of our great heroes ... nobody thought that was possible. And now, we're well on our way to get denuclearization... we have great chemistry, and that's a good thing, not a bad thing."
Trump was then asked by an unidentified reporter, "How can Kim Jong Un love his people if he's killing them?"
Trump responded, "I can't speak to that. I can only speak to the fact that we signed an incredible agreement, it's great. And it's going to be great for them, too, because now North Korea can develop."