U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s first speech to the United Nations General Assembly has infuriated North Korea. After North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un released a public statement condemning Trump on September 22, more than 100,000 people in Pyongyang were mobilized to rally against the “U.S. imperialists” over the weekend. North Korean state media called the rallies part of an “anti-U.S. showdown.”
On September 19, Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” and taunted Kim Jong-un as a “Rocket Man” in his first speech to the United Nations. In response, Kim Jong-un in person issued a strong statement on September 22, condemning Trump’s “unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors” and threatening that Trump would “face results beyond his expectation.” Kim’s statement has been publicly broadcast to the whole country and has dominated all North Korean news media since then.
On September 23, Pyongyang launched a series of mass rallies against Trump. The largest one took place at Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung Square, with multiple high-level government officials as well as more than 100,000 people attended the rally, according to KCNA.
Kim Jong-un’s earlier statement was first read to the thousands of people gathering at the square, according to KCNA. Then multiple officials made sensational speeches, vowing to protect North Korea and “achieve the final victory.”
For example, Choe Hak-chol, vice-chairman of the Pyongyang City Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), asserted that all the Party members and people in Pyongyang are “aflame with the will to completely remove the U.S. imperialists, the sworn enemy, from the globe.”
Cha Hui-rim, chairman of the Pyongyang City People’s Committee, claimed that Trump’s remarks “clearly proved” that North Korea’s developing “invincible military capacities” was “absolutely right” and should be “upheld to the last.” Ri Il-bae, a commanding officer of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards, said: “We are waiting for the moment of final decisive battle to remove the U.S., empire of evil, from the globe.”
The latest anti-U.S. mobilization involved senior officials too. While ordinary North Korean people had to demonstrate in the open square, members of the Presidium of the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly, the Cabinet, all ministries and various national institutions held a grand rally at the People’s Palace of Culture on September 23, too.
Kim Yong-nam, the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, presided over the rally. As the “nominal head of state” of North Korea, Kim Yong-nam carries symbolic influence.
This anti-U.S. campaign has been the largest one in North Korea since Trump came into office. It is obvious that Trump’s aggressive bombast has seriously irritated Kim. Thus, he is determined to mobilize the whole nation with anti-U.S. anger.
As The Diplomat analyzed earlier, Trump’s striking remarks would only make the North Korea issue worse, since such bombast from the American president would not only justify North Korea’s recent missile launches as reasonable self-defense measures, but further unite the North Korean people. The latest mass rallies in Pyongyang show that the reality is moving exactly toward this direction.