Trump praise for Kim Jong Un baffles South Koreans

Trump praise for Kim Jong Un baffles South Koreans
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South Koreans were taken aback by President Trump when he referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a "pretty smart cookie."

The South Korean newspaper Segye Times referred to Trump as a "rugby ball" — a metaphor for someone who takes unpredictable bounces — in a headline about the remarks, The Associated Press reported.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency attempted to explain in an article what "smart cookie" meant and wrote that the comments could be an effort to justify potential future actions by the U.S. to increase pressure against the North.

North Korea hasn't directly responded to Trump's "smart cookie" comments. A commentary in the state-run Minju Joson previously slammed Trump for "bellicose hysteria."

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"The Trump administration would be well advised to learn how humbly the preceding administrations were put in the awkward position of lowering the fist of pressure they had raised before" North Korea, the commentary said.
In an interview published over the weekend, Trump noted Kim took power in North Korea at the age of 27.
 
"A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else," Trump said. "And he was able to do it. So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie."
 
On Monday, Trump said he is open to direct talks with Kim despite growing tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program.
 
North Korea has rocketed to the top of Trump's list of world hotspots over its repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests, which violate international arms agreements.