- President Donald Trump offered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un well wishes on Thursday, prompting confusion and outrage on social media.
- “Kim Jong Un is in good health. Never underestimate him!” Trump tweeted.
- Congressional lawmakers and reporters slammed Trump for celebrating the “good health” of one of the world’s most repressive rulers.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump faced backlash online Thursday after celebrating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s “good health.”
“Kim Jong Un is in good health. Never underestimate him!” Trump tweeted.
Kim is widely regarded as among the most repressive rulers in the world, and largely maintains power via a brutal system of concentration camps.
Between Kim’s terrible human rights record and the fact the US is nearing 200,000 confirmed deaths from coronavirus, many on Twitter (including congressional lawmakers) apparently found it highly inappropriate that Trump hailed the North Korean leader’s health.
—Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) September 10, 2020
—Rep. Mike Levin (@RepMikeLevin) September 10, 2020
—Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) September 10, 2020
—Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 10, 2020
It’s not entirely clear why Trump felt compelled to tweet about Kim’s well-being, but rumors have circulated in recent months that he was unwell.
Trump’s tweet came amid new revelations on the president’s relationship with the North Korean leader via veteran reporter Bob Woodward’s new book “Rage.”
In the book, which Insider obtained an early copy of, the president spoke positively of Kim and offered gruesome details on the assassination of the North Korean leader’s uncle.
“He likes me. I like him. We get along. That doesn’t mean I’m naive. That doesn’t mean that I think, oh, it’s going to be wonderful. He’s a very tough cookie. And he is smart, very smart,” Trump said to Woodward in one of 17 interviews for the book.
Trump told Woodward that Kim tells him “everything.”
“I know everything about him. He killed his uncle and he put the body right in the steps where the senators walked out. And the head was cut, sitting on the chest. Think that’s tough? You know, they think politics in this country’s tough,” Trump said, according to Woodward.
The president has met with Kim on several occasions. The meetings were designed to facilitate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which has not yet occurred. North Korea continues to engage in aggressive activities, and critics contend that by meeting with Kim the president helped legitimize a brutal dictator without any palpable benefits.