Each day in the run-up to the first 2020 U.S. presidential primaries, former Vice President Joe Biden faces rhetorical attacks --- not just from his Democratic rivals for the party’s nomination, but from Republicans looking to weaken his chances of facing President Trump in the general election next November.
On Friday, a new voice took a swipe at Biden. Officials in North Korea called him a “rabid dog” that “must be beaten to death with a stick,” according to the Associated Press. It was the latest blow the rogue country has targeted against foreign leaders it views as hostile to the rule of Kim Jong Un.
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The commentary by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said Biden "reeled off a string of rubbish against the dignity" of the North's supreme leadership, an act it said deserves "merciless punishment."
The editorial referred to Biden (or sometimes "Baiden") using only his surname and as the man who served as vice president under Barack Obama.
Back in May, however, the North correctly spelled Biden's name when it labeled him a "fool of low IQ" after he called Kim a tyrant during a speech.
The reclusive country often insulted foreign leaders and politicians when it sees what it considers slanderous remarks aimed at its leaders or hostile policies against its government. In addition, the North has made racist or sexist diatribes against Obama and former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, the country's first female leader.
The North reversed this policy concerning President Trump, however, when the nation’s 45th president made diplomatic overtures to Kim in 2018, resulting in three summits. Prior to the overtures, the North Koreans referred to Trump as a “dotard.”
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"Anyone who dare slanders the dignity of the supreme leadership of the D.P.R.K, can never spare the D.P.R.K's merciless punishment whoever and wherever," said the North Korean statement, referring to the country by its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"Rabid dogs like Baiden [sic] can hurt lots of people if they are allowed to run about,” the statement continued. “They must be beaten to death with a stick, before it is too late," it said.
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It wasn't immediately clear which of Biden's comments provoked North Korea's anger. He’s accused Trump of cozying up to "dictators and tyrants" and has been highly critical of his summits with Kim, calling the meetings "three made-for-TV summits."
Biden campaign Rapid Response Director Andrew Bates fired back Friday, saying: "It's becoming more and more obvious that repugnant dictators, as well as those who admire and 'love' them, find Joe Biden threatening. That's because he'd restore American leadership in the world on day one by putting our security, interests, and values at the heart of our foreign policy."
Speculating further, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency believes North Korea’s Biden insults were an appeal to Trump, who has continued to describe his personal relationship with Kim as good despite a stalemate in nuclear negotiations over disagreements in exchanging sanctions relief and disarmament steps.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.