According to this statement from Kim Jong-un,

Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the D.P.R.K. [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.

(bold mine)

What does Kim mean by “denied the existence of”? Does he mean that Trump said that North Korea doesn’t exist (which would seem odd)?

3 Answers 3


This is similar to China being recognized as THE China, and Taiwan being recognized as, well, something different. Mainland China always gets very upset when officials from Taiwan are met or dealt with, because they consider that nation to be illegitimate, in their official stance.

Similarly, North Korea only enjoys limited recognition from the USA and a few other nations (to be clear, this means only the USA and a few other nations have relationships and recognition that are this limited with North Korea. Most of the world has a greater degree of recognition). The USA does not have any formal diplomatic relations or recognition of them as a legitimate regime, and while the United States haven't formally made declarations to that effect (that I'm aware of), they essentially deal with and treat South Korea as the legitimate government on that peninsula.

Add to that somewhat schoolyard-ish name calling at the UN by President Trump, and one can see why North Korea feels that the USA does not acknowledge them as a nation-state.

  • 4
    Hmm... I have a hard time accepting this interpretation, given that the quote is "Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world." The U.S. not having diplomatic relations with North Korea is nothing new with Trump and if Trump made any kind of point about this in his U.N. speech, I haven't heard about it. If he did, this answer would be improved by quoting the relevant part of the speech.
    – reirab
    Sep 26, 2017 at 4:27
  • 2
    @reirab - A fair point. However, given that we're kind of translating, second-hand, between Korean and American English, I'm not sure that we can assume any kind of literal claim that Trump was the first to deny the existence. It could very well be something along the lines of emphasizing that he's also threatened and insulted, but they don't want us to forget the "deny" part. Difficult to tell. I do have a lifetime of explaining English to native Koreans, and figuring out what they mean with their use of English, but my actual knowledge of Korean is not up to the task of translation. Sep 26, 2017 at 14:18

Remember that English is not the native language in North Korea.

This probably means "Now that Trump has threatened the existence of North Korea", a reference to the language the Trump used in a recent speech at the UN when he said "The US has great strength and patience. If it is forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

This is not actually a denial of the existence of NK, but it is an ultimatum, cast in the usual Trumpian rhetoric. And the response is typical rhetoric from Kim.

...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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    He got his education from one of the best private school in Switzerland, and he must have some fluent speakers in his entourage, so there is no way he would be this bad.
    – Shautieh
    Sep 26, 2017 at 2:52
  • I understood it to mean denying the right to exist as a sovereign country with the same rights as other sovereign countries. Sep 26, 2017 at 16:37
  • @Shautieh “His remarks, released on Friday by KCNA, the North Korean state news agency…” — it is not clear whether the statement was made in English by Kim (and his speechwriters), or whether it was made in Korean and translated into English by KCNA. I think the latter is more likely: such statements are generally meant for an internal audience (the people of North Korea). It is not unimaginable that KCNA doesn't bother with great Korean–English translators, even if Kim himself had excellent English. Sep 26, 2017 at 18:11
  • @Shautieh he also does not care what you or I think of him
    – emory
    Sep 26, 2017 at 18:52
  • @ShreevatsaR Good point. In this case I think there are enough fluent speakers working in there to avoid such mistakes, especially for president speeches. Quite a few North Korean study abroad and are perfectly fluent.
    – Shautieh
    Sep 28, 2017 at 2:14

Recognition as a sovereign state is the key to all other diplomatic relations. What he is saying is that the U.S. is not respecting North Korea's sovereignty. Take for instance, if I deny your entire existence as a human being how can we ever have a real conversation about anything? Another example being the U.S. recognizes ISIL (ISIS) as existing as a terrorist group, not a sovereign state. This is why the U.S. does not say (or at least under Obama) ISIS, as saying their name would be recognizing them as a state. This is why recognized sovereignty by a nation you want to diplomatic relations with is the first step to diplomatic relations. Kim Jong Un wants one thing really. For his nation to be accepted by the world as a sovereign nation and to be treated as such. Only then will North Korea have any sort of diplomatic power and control over its own destiny.

  • @notstoreboughtdirt your right i removed the part about the UN. They have never won a non-permanent seat to the UN security council is what I was thinking of.
    – Caimen
    Sep 25, 2017 at 20:30

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