The 2017 news cycle was dominated by stories about the threat of nuclear war and escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea.
Early in the year, Pyongyang conducted several missile test-launches, including some of the most
powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles in the regime's history. The barrage of tests demonstrated major advancements in the nation's nuclear development.
At the same time, North Korea's leader and President Trump traded insults in a tense and ongoing back-and-forth. Kim Jong Un infamously called Trump a
'dotard' and said he would reduce the U.S. to a 'pile of ash.'
President Trump took aim at Kim Jong Un by calling the dictator a
'madman' and 'rocket man,' but he also called the leader a 'pretty smart cookie' in April. Click through the most high-profile events and insults between North Korea and Trump this year:
Key moments in 2017 between US and North Korea
NEW YEARS DAY MISSILE LAUNCH
On January 1, 2017, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un warned that an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was
in the 'final stages' of development.
The nation said it could conduct a missile test-launch
'anytime and anywhere'.
On February 12, North Korea tested a
ballistic missile, but it didn't appear to be an ICBM due to its flight range.
NUCLEAR CRISIS AT MAR-A-LAGO
President Trump was at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago having dinner with Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe when news broke that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile on February 12.
The president sparked controversy by reportedly discussing the event
in front of Mar-a-Lago diners while continuing his meal with the Japanese leader and other guests.
POLL SHOWS US CONCERNS
poll conducted by CBS News in April showed that more than half of Americans said they were 'uneasy' about President Trump's ability to deal with North Korea.
FAILED MISSILE TEST
North Korea celebrated the 105th anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth, North Korea's founder, by unveiling powerful
new missiles in April.
The next day, a North Korean missile
'blew up' just a few hours before Vice President Mike Pence arrived in South Korea for a diplomatic trip.
'PRETTY SMART COOKIE'
President Trump called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un
'a pretty smart cookie' in an interview that went viral on April 30.
'At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie,' Trump
told CBS News.
The president also said he'd be
'honored' to meet with the North Korean leader.
KIM JONG UN'S LETTER TO CONGRESS
In early May, North Korea said it would continue its nuclear weapons tests and boost force
'to the maximum' in a stark warning to the U.S.
Pyongyang also condemned President Trump for directing the peninsula to the
'brink of nuclear war.'
Soon after, North Korea sent a
rare letter to the U.S. House of Representatives to protest tougher sanctions on the nation.
TRUMP GETS HEAT AT HOME
In Washington, Trump was met with criticism from several lawmakers over his handling of North Korea.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
sounded off on the issue, saying Trump 'can't meet with Kim Jong Un' as he'd discussed.
In late May, a transcript of a phone call between President Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was leaked to the public.
The transcript showed President Trump call North Korea's leader a
'madman with nuclear weapons' who could not be let on the loose.
'BIGGER GIFT PACKAGE' FOR US
As tensions continued to ramp up in May, North Korea launched another ballistic missile test and warned the U.S. of a
'bigger gift package' in the future.
The U.S. responded by
issuing new sanctions on Pyongyang.
Meanwhile, experts cautioned that the U.S.
'may not be able to stop' the threat of North Korean nuclear missiles.
DENNIS RODMAN VISITS PYONGYANG
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman
arrived in North Korea in June.
'I'm just trying to open the door,' he told reporters. 'My purpose is to actually to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea, so that's the main thing.'
Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, was released from North Korean custody on June 13.
Warmbier had been imprisoned in North Korea since early 2016 after he was accused of trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel while visiting the country as a tourist.
After the announcement of his release, Warmbier was
photographed comatose and being carried off a plane with a tube in his nose. It was discovered that he had been in a coma for the past year.
North Korean officials said he got botulism and was given a sleeping pill, but never woke up.
Warmbier's father said his son suffered a serious neurological injury was
died on June 19 from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain, according to a U.S. coroner.
President Trump tweeted in June that diplomacy
'has not worked out' with North Korea, suggesting a potential change in policy.
Pyongyang called Trump a
'psychopath' two days later.
SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH OF ICBM
On July 4, North Korea successfully test-launched an ICBM for
the first time ever. The missile flew a trajectory that could hit Alaska.
President Trump responded
via Twitter: 'North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?...'
The president later vowed to 'confront very strongly' the issue of North Korea's
'very, very bad behavior.'
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said North Korea's actions were 'quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution' and that the United States was prepared to use force
'if we must.'
'PILE OF ASH'
In a bold statement, North Korea threatened to turn the U.S. into a
'pile of ash' on July 12.
US THREATENED WITH 'MERCILESS BLOW'
On July 27, a North Korean spokesperson
said, 'Should the U.S. dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the U.S. with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.'
The following day, North Korea fired a missile in
an unusual late-night test-launch.
TRUMP WARNS OF 'FIRE AND FURY'
In early August, President Trump warned that North Korea would be met with
'fire and fury' if it continued to threaten the United States.
In response, North Korea said it was
considering a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
POLL SHOWS US VIEW OF THREAT
poll in August showed that most Americans saw North Korea as a 'very serious threat' at that point.
US TOLD TO 'ACT PROPERLY'
President Trump said the U.S. military was
'locked and loaded' in a series of new threats against Pyongyang.
North Korea responded
by saying, 'If the Trump administration does not want the American empire to meet its tragic doom..., they had better talk and act properly.'
'ASHES AND DARKNESS'
After Pyongyang conducted its biggest missile test to date on August 29, one of its top diplomats said it was ready to send
'more gift packages' to the United States.
North Korea later threatened to 'sink' Japan and reduce the United States to
'ashes and darkness.'
On September 15, North Korea carried out another
President Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un 'rocket man' twice, first during an address before the U.N. General Assembly in September and again on
'I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!'
Trump claimed the nickname was meant to be a
Kim Jong Un called President Trump
'mentally deranged' and said he would 'totally destroy' the U.S. after he was dubbed 'rocket man' in a U.N. speech.
The North Korean leader also slammed President Trump as
'a frightened dog,' a 'dotard' and 'gangster fond of playing with fire' in a statement released on September 22.
TRUMP VISITS ASIA
President Trump brought up North Korea during a
trip to Japan in November, saying 'no dictator' should underestimate the U.S.
Trump's planned visit to the DMZ was
canceled due to weather.
TRUMP CALLED 'OLD' BY KIM JONG UN
On November 11, President Trump
posted a tweet:
'Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me "old," when I would NEVER call him "short and fat?" Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!'
NOVEMBER MISSILE LAUNCH
North Korea fired what is believed to be an ICBM on November 28 that
landed near Japan.
by saying, 'It is a situation that we will handle.'
A North Korean official said the U.S. was
'begging for nuclear war' and participating in an 'extremely dangerous nuclear gamble.'
On December 20, it was reported that North Korea is testing whether its ICBM weapons are capable of