SEOUL: North Korea on Thursday called US President Donald Trump a “psychopath” as tensions soar following the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was evacuated in a coma from North Korean detention last week.
Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Trump was in a “tough situation” at home and claimed he was toying with the idea of a preemptive strike on North Korea to divert attention from a domestic political crisis. “South Korea must realise that following psychopath Trump…will only lead to disaster,” an editorial carried by the paper said.
A series of atomic tests and missile launches since last year have ratcheted up tensions on the Korean peninsula, and Warmbier’s death has further strained relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
Trump slammed the “brutal regime” in Pyongyang, and said he was determined to “prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.”
His language was echoed by South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who said in an interview that North Korea bears responsibility for the student’s death.
“I believe we must now have the perception that North Korea is an irrational regime,” Moon told CBS.
Moon, a centre-left politician who was sworn in last month after a landslide election win, favours engagement with the North, rather than the hardline stance taken by his ousted conservative predecessor Park Geun-Hye.
THOUSANDS ATTEND WARMBIER’S FUNERAL
Thousands of friends and family members gathered in suburban Cincinnati on Thursday to say goodbye to Warmbier.
Some 2,500 mourners attended a morning memorial at Wyoming High School in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming.
Warmbier, who graduated from the school as salutatorian in 2013, will be buried at a local cemetery later in the day. The exact cause of his death is unclear. Officials at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was treated, declined to provide details.
Warmbier’s brother and sister spoke at Thursday’s memorial, as did a number of his friends, said attendee Fred Koss.