Trump on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: 'Rocket Man' nickname was supposed to be a compliment

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During a Republican fundraiser dinner on Tuesday, President Donald Trump discussed several military and foreign policy-related topics that have made headlines during the first months of his presidency, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

After calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, "Rocket Man," on Twitter and during his first address before the UN General Assembly earlier this month, Trump and North Korea sniped at each other with increasing intensity.

The war of words subsequently became viral fodder for foreign-policy experts.

According to people who attended the dinner and shared their accounts of Trump's remarks with The Post, Trump said that he did not give Kim Jong Un the now-infamous nickname in jest; and he thought "Rocket Man" could be taken as a compliment, not an insult.

RELATED: Facts about Kim Jong Un

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Everything you didn't know about Kim Jong Un
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Everything you didn't know about Kim Jong Un

1. While Kim Jong Un's birthday on January 8 is a national holiday, it is unknown exactly how old the North Korean leader is. It's widely believed he is in his early-mid thirties. In 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department listed his birth year as 1984 when they placed sanctions on North Korea.

 (KCNA via REUTERS)

2. Kim Jong Un is the world's youngest leader, according to the date listed by the Treasury. 

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

3. Kim Jong Un is very passionate about basketball. He is reportedly a big fan of Michael Jordan and has a friendly relationship with Jordan's former Chicago Bulls teammate Dennis Rodman. Rodman has visited the secluded nation multiple times and even sang him "Happy Birthday" before an exhibition game in Jan. 2014. 

(REUTERS/KCNA)

4. Kim Jong Un reportedly has a love for smoking, whiskey and cheese

(KCNA/via Reuters)

5. Kim Jong Un's older half-brother Kim Jong Nam was killed in Feb. 2017 by two women who smeared VX nerve agent on his face at an airport in Kuala Lumpur. The women were arrested following his death. Many believe the hit was directed by North Korea. 

(KCNA; REUTERS)

6. Kim Jong Un has two college degrees. One is in physics from Kim il Sung University and another as an Army officer obtained from the Kim Il Sung Military University.

(KCNA/REUTERS)

7. Kim Jong Un attended boarding school in Switzerland. It is widely disputed how much time he spent at the school. Most reports say he was abroad from 1998-2000. 

(KCNA/REUTERS)

8. Kim Jong Un is the only general in the world that does not have any military experience. 

(KCNA/REUTERS)

9. He married Ri Sol Ju in 2009. The couple has at least one daughter named Ju Ae. 

(KCNA/REUTERS)

10. Kim Jong Un had his uncle Jang Song Thaek arrested and executed for treachery in 2013. 

(REUTERS/Kyodo)

11. Kim Jong Un hand selected North Korea's first all-female music group -- Moranbong Band. They made their debut in 2012. 

(ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

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When Kim Jong Un parried with a personal message to Trump and called him a "dotard" after his UN speech, Trump said he decided to ratchet up his own rhetoric in response: "So I said, all right, so now I'll call him Little Rocket Man," Trump reportedly said at the dinner, according to The Post.

Trump test-drove that moniker at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama.

"We can't have madmen out there shooting rockets all over the place," Trump said at the rally. "This shouldn't be handled now, but I'm gonna handle it because we have to handle it. 'Little Rocket Man.'"

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