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Thursday, June 13, 2024

What Did Kim Jong-Un Mean by Dotard? – Key Expressions in His Statement

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Spectators listen to a television news broadcast of a statement by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un outside the central railway station in Pyongyang on September 22, 2017 [Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images].
On September 21, after Trump’s announcement that he would be imposing new sanctions on North Korea, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un released a statement denouncing the US President.

The statement, which was written in first person, took many by surprise – firstly for its radical stance and secondly for its vocabulary. Uses of words like “dotard” made people rush to the dictionary, and the word is now going viral on social media.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “dotard” as “an old person, expecially one who has become weak or senile.”

But does “늙다리 미치광이,” which is the North Korean expression Kim Jong-un used in his statement, actually mean “dotard?” Below are some of the North Korean expressions in Kim Jong-un’s statement that even native Korean speakers find unfamiliar, along with their comparison to the official translation by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency.


망탕 내뱉다

official translation: to utter
actual translation: to blurt recklessly


미치광이 나발을 불다

official translation: to make rude nonsense
actual translation: to bluntly speak lunatic speech



official translation: a rogue
actual translation: a nasty person whose personality or act is awfully mean


늙다리 미치광이

official translation: a dotard
actual translation: an old lunatic (informal)



By Heewon Kim