Philippine President Rodridgo Duterte said he would congratulate North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, his new “idol,” if he gets a chance to meet him, Reuters news agency reported today.
“For all of the time, he was pictured to be the bad boy of the community. With one masterstroke, he is now the hero of everybody,” Duterte told reporters, commenting on the historic meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Two days ago, on April 27, Kim Jong Un became the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea since the end of the Korean war. Kim and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in shook hands at the border. The pair stepped back and forth across the demarcation line, symbolizing the historical significance of this moment, BBC noted. Although some analysts remain skeptical, the meeting is seen as a step toward possible peace on the peninsula.
Rodrigo Duterte is one of the most controversial leaders in the world. Many of his statements have been widely reported and used as an example of unhinged authoritarianism. U.S. News & World Report published a list of some of his most controversial quotes. Duterte said he would be happy to slaughter drug dealers, called former U.S. President Barrack Obama, as well as the Pope a “son of a wh**e,” claimed journalists shouldn’t be “exempted from assassination,” publicly ridiculed a rape victim, and openly discussed his use of Viagra.
From “fool” and ‘son of a b**ch,” to “idol” and “hero of everybody” – Duterte’s opinion on Kim Jong Un seems to have changed radically.
In August last year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called Kim a “fool playing with dangerous toys,” for endangering Asia with nuclear plans. According to Vice, Duterte also said the following.
“That chubby face that looks kind. That son of a b**ch. If he commits a mistake, the Far East will become an arid land. It must be stopped, this nuclear war.”
The Philippine leader’s rhetoric has, apparently, changed. “I admire you. You know how to time your moves,” is what Duterte would say to Kim if he had a chance to speak to him in person.
The two have met before. Speaking of their meeting, Duterte said Kim appeared to be an “amiable, jolly good fellow.” According to Reuters, he concluded the news conference with the following statement.
“He (Kim) can treat me as his friend…The impact is really, there is less stress now in the Korean Peninsula. And maybe, just maybe, we can avoid a war which nobody can win anyway.”
The commitments signed by North and South Korea’s leaders were widely regarded as a breakthrough, and a significant step towards prosperity and peace. Critics claim the statement signed by North and South Korea’s leaders mirrors pacts from 2000 and 2007.
These commitments are nothing but déjà vu – empty promises, vows that have been made and broken quite a few times already, critics argue.
“This all seems to be straight out of a playbook that they’ve gone to before. At this point in time, the only thing we can say is that these words have been said before, and nothing really happened,” Jack Kim, co-founder of HanVoice Support Association, a North Korea human-rights nonprofit based in Toronto, told the Wall Street Journal.