Kim Jong-un of North Korea may have been pronounced guilty of braggadocio in making bombastic comments in his war of words with the US. But he could pride himself on having sent half the world scurrying to open dictionaries of the physical kind or take recourse to the somewhat simpler expedient of opening the online lexicons or Thesaurus.com. Mr Kim’s use of the 9th century origin “dotard” set off furious reference action over the weekend as scholars, reporters and all the US President’s men refreshed their knowledge of the word. As translated, Mr Kim’s quote on the wires out of North Korea was: “Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.” Trump haters may see a measure of appropriateness in what the obese kid who likes to play with nuclear toys had to say on his favourite subject.
Donald Trump’s term describing Mr Kim at the UN as the “Rocket Man” sort of falls flat compared to “dotard” (“a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise”). Our dear departed President Abdul Kalam could have taken offence as this was the moniker he lived with all his life. Elton John, who sang the hit song with that title in 1972, might take umbrage or even claim a royalty. But then US Presidents have always been Mr Kim’s targets as he had likened Barack Obama to “a monkey in a tropical forest”. If the threat of a nuclear holocaust around the Korean peninsula does not come as a part of this dreadful scenario, the “exchange of pleasantries” might have been thought of as humorous. Can the world continue to laugh at this tirade of insults when Mr Kim threatens to explode a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific even as Mr Trump threatens to “totally destroy” North Korea? Best to say the insults are no laughing matter.