Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte condemned his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un as a “son of a bitch maniac” in an aside during a speech to the nation’s tax agency Wednesday, warning that despite his “chubby face,” he had the potential of turning all of Asia into “an arid land.”
“He is playing with dangerous toys and this crazy man, do not be fooled by his face, that chubby face that looks nice,” Duterte told an audience at an anniversary celebration for the nation’s Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). “That son of a bitch maniac, if he makes a mistake then the Far East will become an arid land. It must be stopped, this nuclear war, because (if) a limited confrontation blows up here, I tell you the fallout, the soil, the resources. I don’t know what will happen to us. We won’t be able to plant anything productive.”
“Kim Jong-un, that’s a shame,” he said in Filipino. “You know, if that guy – I do not think he is ready, but he is playing with dangerous toys.”
Duterte appeared to be referencing North Korea’s most recent missile test, the launch last week of what observers believe to be a Hwasong-14 model missile. North Korea’s national media outlets claim it is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with the capacity to reliably hit the continental United States, a claim many in South Korea and the United States doubt. All agree that the launch serves as yet another provocation against both South Korea and the West and that its moderate success presents the possibility of further weapons development in the near future.
Duterte has previously criticized Kim as a belligerent destabilizer in the region. In April, he appeared to refer to North Korea and the United States as posing similar issues, stating, “there seem to be two countries playing with their toys and those toys are not really to entertain.” He later added a caveat about Kim: “You know that they are playing with somebody who relishes letting go of missiles and everything. I would not want to go into his [Kim’s] mind because I really do not know what’s inside but he’s putting Mother Earth, the planet to an edge.”
Duterte has also claimed Kim “wants to end the world.”
Duterte has nonetheless welcomed North Korean officials to Manila for dialogue. In July, the Philippine government unveiled that North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Hui-choi had participated in a meeting with Philippine officials regarding regional stability, without providing reporters details of the encounter.
American officials have attempted to involve Duterte in the global conversation regarding how to contain the rogue communist regime in Pyongyang. In May, President Donald Trump reportedly invited Duterte to the White House, a move then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus claimed was part of a greater effort to contain North Korea. Responding to criticism that Duterte’s campaign against drug traffickers in the Philippines had violated human rights, Priebus said that speaking to Duterte “doesn’t mean human rights don’t matter, but what it does mean is that the issues facing us, developing out of North Korea, are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure we have our ducks in a row.”
Duterte’s office initially said claimed he had appreciated the invitation but, later on, the president himself claimed he would never visit America because “I’ve seen America and it’s lousy.”
American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled to visit the Philippines, as well as Thailand and Malaysia, between August 5 and August 9, Tillerson told reporters Tuesday. The “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” will remain on the top of the list of issues to discuss with world leaders.