Photo: Jeff Swensen (Getty Images)

The president of the United States has claimed—albeit tongue-in-cheek—to be having an ongoing love affair with one of the most murderous dictators in the world. Joking or not, the comments delivered at a Saturday night rally in West Virginia show just how sadistic Donald Trump really is.

Trump was describing a brief contentious relationship he had at the outset of his administration with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un—mostly via Twitter—and said, “and then we fell in love. OK?”

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As members of the audience burst into laughter, Trump continued, “No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters. And they’re great letters. We fell in love.” To this, the crowd cheered.

The president then mocked the press, accurately predicting he would be condemned for the remarks.

“They’ll say, ‘Donald Trump said they fell in love. How horrible, how horrible is that? So unpresidential.’ And I always tell you it’s so easy to be presidential. But instead of having 10,000 people outside trying to get into this packed arena, we’d have about 200 people standing right there. Ok?”

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Trump thinks he’s solved the North Korea nuclear weapons crisis after a June summit the two leaders held in Singapore. But on Saturday, North Korean diplomat Ri Yong Ho told members of the U.N. General Assembly that his country believes there has been no “corresponding response” from the U.S. to steps North Korea claims it has taken to disarm, the Associated Press reported.

In reality, “denuclearization negotiations have stalled,” the AP said.

In Trump’s mind, his “love” for Kim, along with a few letter exchanges, have saved “millions” of lives. “We were going to war with North Korea. Millions of people would have been killed. Now we have this great relationship,” Trump said.

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To put this in perspective, last December, three internationally renowned judges—one of them an Auschwitz survivor—released a highly disturbing report calling for an international tribunal to investigate crimes against humanity committed in North Korea’s political prisons. It called for the prosecution of Kim, members of the Workers’ Party of Korea and its Politburo, internal security officials, and prison guards.

Based on testimony from experts and defectors, the camps are said to hold up to 130,000 prisoners. Following are some of their experiences, according to the International Bar Association War Crimes Committee report:

  • prisoners tortured and killed on account of their religious affiliation, with officials instructed ‘to wipe out the seed of [Christian] reactionaries’;
  • a prisoner’s newborn baby, fed to guard dogs and killed;
  • an abortion induced by three men standing on a wooden plank placed on a pregnant prisoner’s stomach;
  • a female prisoner losing consciousness after enduring a beating designed to trigger premature labour, with prison officials killing her baby before she could regain consciousness;
  • a prisoner raped by a security officer, after which the officer pushed a wooden stick inside her vagina and beat her lower body, resulting in her death within a week;
  • the deliberate starvation, malnutrition, overwork and death of countless prisoners, including between 1,500–2,000 prisoners, mostly children, who are believed to have died each year from malnutrition in one camp alone, with many other prisoners beaten to death for failing to meet production quotas;
  • a soldier supervising a forced labour site rolling a log down a steep mountainside, killing ten prisoners as they were carrying logs up the mountain;
  • routine public executions of prisoners, carried out in front of both children and adults, designed to subdue the prison population;
  • the execution of starving prisoners found digging for edible plants on a mountainside; and
  • the beating to death of a prisoner for hiding stolen corn in his mouth.

Jurist Thomas Buergenthal, who survived Auschwitz as a child and went on to serve on the International Court of Justice, said the conditions in North Korea’s political prisons are perhaps worse than Nazi camps.

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“I believe that the conditions in the [North] Korean prison camps are as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in my youth in these Nazi camps and in my long professional career in the human rights field,” he told The Washington Post last year.