Republican Presidential Hopefuls Give Trump a Reality Check: No Congrats for Kim Jong Un’s WHO Seat!

Several Republican presidential candidates criticized former President Donald Trump for congratulating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on North Korea’s appointment to the World Health Organization’s Executive Board. Despite North Korea’s consistent violations of the United Nations charter, it secured a seat on the influential board.

Dr. Jong Min Pak, the leader of the North Korean Ministry of Public Health, will now have a say in shaping the WHO’s agenda and policies as a voting member. Trump’s congratulatory message caused immediate outrage among member states, especially South Korea.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is preparing to launch his 2024 presidential bid, voiced his disapproval during an interview with Fox News. He stressed the importance of not praising dictators like Kim Jong Un or the leader of Russia, who engaged in an unprovoked war in Ukraine. Pence made these remarks at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was campaigning for his upcoming official launch. Almost all major 2024 GOP hopefuls attended the event, excluding Trump. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) also criticized Trump’s comments.

DeSantis, who recently announced his presidential bid, expressed surprise at Trump’s congratulatory message, stating his view that Kim Jong Un is a murderous dictator. DeSantis condemned the World Health Organization as a bankrupt organization and questioned North Korea’s involvement. He advocated for the United States to disengage from the WHO and rejected the proposed WHO lockdown treaty instead of applauding anyone’s participation in the organization.

Haley echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing that praising a thug like Kim Jong Un was inappropriate. She reminded everyone of his threats to the United States and its allies, stating that he was terrible to his people and undeserving of congratulations.

Another Republican candidate, former Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), a vocal critic of Trump, took to Twitter to express his disagreement with Trump’s praise for Kim Jong Un. Hutchinson highlighted the importance of sanctioning leaders who oppress their people rather than elevating them on the global stage.

Trump has not responded to the criticisms yet. However, his approach to North Korean relations differed from that of his predecessors. Trump met with Kim Jong Un three times during his presidency, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit North Korean soil. Their interactions ranged from friendly exchanges, including what Trump called “love letters,” to public disputes, particularly when Kim threatened to use nuclear weapons against the United States.