(CNSNews.com) – President Trump had a message for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un on Wednesday: “Do not underestimate us and do not try us”; abandon your aggression and nuclear weapons ambitions and “we will offer a path to a much better future.”
“The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer,” Trump said in remarks directed at the North Korean dictator. “They are putting your regime in grave danger.”
Addressing the National Assembly in Seoul, just 35 miles from the DMZ with the Stalinist-ruled North, he continued, “Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.”
“North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather [Kim Il-sung] envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves,” Trump said. “Yet despite every crime you have committed against God and man, we are ready to offer – and we will do that, we will offer – a path to a much better future.”
Trump said that path begins with an end to the regime’s aggression, a halt to ballistic missile development, and “complete, verifiable and total denuclearization.”
The president recalled past efforts by the U.S. to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs, including the Clinton administration’s 1994 Agreed Framework and the 2005 “six-party” talks denuclearization agreement during the Bush administration – both violated by North Korea.
He recalled too the Obama administration’s engagement offer in late 2009, to which the regime responded by sinking a South Korean Navy ship the following March, killing 46 sailors.
“The regime has interpreted America’s past restraint as weakness,” Trump said.
“This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United State has had in the past,” he said. “Today I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations, when I say to the North: ‘Do not underestimate us, and do not try us.’
“We will defend out common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.”
Earlier Wednesday, Trump attempted to pay a previously-unannounced visit to the DMZ, but his helicopter had to turn back due to thick fog. Several previous U.S. presidents have traveled to the world’s most heavily-fortified border to gaze into the North, although prior to Wednesday the White House had indicated Trump would not do so on this trip.
In his speech to South Korean lawmakers, Trump painted a grim picture of the “horror of life” in the North, referring to the torture and execution of people of faith, forced abortion and infanticide of babies deemed to be “ethnically inferior,” and the fact citizens desperate to get away pay bribes to officials to have themselves shipped abroad as slave laborers.
“On this peninsula, we have watched the results of a tragic experiment in a laboratory of history. It is a tale of one people, but two Koreas,” he said.
“One Korea in which the people took control of their lives and their country and chose a future of freedom and justice, of civilization and of incredible achievement. And another Korea in which leaders imprison their people under the banner of tyranny, fascism and oppression.”
“The results of this experiment are in, and they are totally conclusive.”
Trump noted that at the start of the Korean war in 1950, the two halves of the country had approximately the same GDP per capita.
By the 1990s, South Korea’s wealth had surpassed that of the North by more than ten times, and today, he said, the South’s economy was more than 40 times larger than its neighbor’s.