Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest controversial remarks target the North Korean regime, and they come just a few days ahead of his hosting a meeting of foreign diplomats at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum.
In his typical colorful rhetoric, Duterte professed his hatred for war and described North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un as a “fool” and a “son of a bitch” who is “playing with dangerous toys.”
"This Kim Jong Un, a fool.... He is playing with dangerous toys, that fool," Duterte said in a speech live-streamed on Facebook to tax officials on Wednesday. Then, he commented on Kim Jong Un’s appearance.
"That chubby face that looks kind. That son of a bitch. If he commits a mistake, the Far East will become an arid land. It must be stopped, this nuclear war,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.
Duterte had already made his feelings against Kim Jong Un known in May, during his a call to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump asked Duterte about his opinion of the North Korean ruler. “He is not stable, Mr. President, as he keeps smiling when he explodes a rocket,” Duterte said, according to leaked transcripts of the phone call.
“Every generation has a madman,” Duterte continued. “In our generation, it is Kim Jong Un. You are dealing with a very delicate problem.”
While Wednesday’s remarks are the strongest yet directed at Kim Jong Un, this isn’t the first time Duterte used expletives against world leaders. He infamously spat vitriol against former U.S. President Barack Obama, calling him a “son of a whore” in September—which prompted Obama to cancel a meeting with Duterte—and inviting him to “go to hell” in a speech a month later.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said on Tuesday that the U.S. is not seeking regime change in North Korea, is due to travel to the Philippines later this week to attend the ASEAN meeting, where the issue of Pyongyang’s advancing nuclear capabilities will be high on the agenda, along with maritime security and counterterrorism.