North Korea takes a shine to Donald Trump


SEOUL: Donald Trump’s push for the White House has caught the approving eye of North Korea, which appears to be relishing the potential strategic benefits of a Trump presidency.

An editorial Wednesday in the ruling party’s official newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, gleefully pointed to rival South Korea’s “anxiety” at the prospect of the former TV reality star winning November’s US election.

And the day before, a state-run propaganda website ran an article that praised Trump as a “wise” politician who would make a better president than “thick-headed” Hillary Clinton.

Both pieces referenced Trump’s repeated threat to withdraw US troops from South Korea unless Seoul forks out more cash to cover the cost of their presence.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has also said he would be willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

“The South Korean government has been unable to hide its anxiety as it watches closely US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stance on Korea policy,” the Rodong editorial said.

“That’s because whenever Trump talks about foreign policy, he brings up the issue of US troops in South Korea and its ‘free ride on defense’,” it said.

There are close to 30,000 US troops permanently stationed in South Korea — a presence the North condemns as provocative and a measure of South Korea’s “puppet-like” alliance with the United States.

Trump’s troop withdrawal threat had “surprised the servants that look up to the US as their master,” the newspaper said.

While clearly revelling in the South’s perceived discomfort, the editorial stopped far short of endorsing Trump’s candidacy and offered no opinion on him as a politician.

Tuesday’s article published by the propaganda website DPRK Today, on the other hand, was brimming over with opinion.

DPRK is the official acronym of North Korea. The website is largely aimed at an outside audience and is not seen as a state mouthpiece like Rodong Sinmun.

Authored by a Chinese national of Korean ethnicity who described himself as a North Korean scholar, the colourfully worded article also highlighted Trump’s stance on US troops in the South.

“Considering this, Trump is not, after all, a foul-mouthed, strange or ignorant candidate but a wise politician and a presidential candidate with a forward-looking capability,” it said.

It went on to encourage US voters to choose Trump “instead of the thick-headed Hillary” who it criticised for believing North Korea might follow Iran in striking a nuclear deal with the United States.

However, it stressed that the choice was still between two evils, and suggested Trump’s rhetoric was largely empty bluster.

“No matter who is elected president, the hostile US policy towards the DPRK won’t change and Trump’s ‘wild campaign promises’ are nothing more than an election ploy aimed at boosting popularity,” it said.

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