President Donald Trump sparks controversy with salute of North Korean general

WASHINGTON — North Korean state television aired video from the historic summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un Thursday that included a surprising moment when the American president saluted a North Korean general.

President Trump reached out to shake the general's hand who responded with a salute. Trump reciprocated, saluting the General back before the men shook hands.

The video is now running over and over on North Korean state television with an enthusiastic anchor track.

Social media exploded with outrage about Trump's salute.

RELATED: Scenes from Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un's summit in Singapore

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Scenes from Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un's summit in Singapore
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Scenes from Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un's summit in Singapore
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have become on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visits The Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su
U.S. President Donald Trump flanked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly attend a lunch with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and officials at the Istana in Singapore June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
US President Donald Trump (R) gestures as he meets with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have become on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired American professional basketball player Dennis Rodman speaks to the press as he arrives at Changi International airport ahead of US-North Korea summit in Singapore on June 11, 2018. - North Korea's Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump meet on June 12 for an unprecedented summit in an attempt to address the last festering legacy of the Cold War, with the US President calling it a 'one time shot' at peace. (Photo by ADEK BERRY / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)
The motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan takes a selfie with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un during a visit in Merlion Park in Singapore, in this photo taken by Kyodo June 11, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
SINGAPORE - JUNE 11: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION, REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) U.S. President Donald Trump (L) meets with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) to attend a bilateral meeting at the Istana, Singapore on June 11, 2018. (Photo by Ministry of Communications and Information, Republic of Singapore / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, center, tours the Esplanade in Singapore on Monday, June 11, 2018. Kim smiled and waved to a cheering crowd during a surprise late-night tour of Singapore on the eve of his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong walk together during a meeting at the Istana in Singapore June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, center, tours the Esplanade in Singapore on Monday, June 11, 2018. Kim smiled and waved to a cheering crowd during a surprise late-night tour of Singapore on the eve of his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump is pictured during a meeting at the Istana in Singapore June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) poses with US President Donald Trump (R) after taking part in a signing ceremony at the end of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un became on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump holds up a document signed by him and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un following a signing ceremony during their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un became on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
SINGAPORE - 2018/06/11: President Trump leaves the Sinagpore Istana after meeting with with Singaporean PM Lee Heisn Loong ahead of Trump-Kim Summit. The historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore as both leaders arrived in the Southeast Asian city-state on Sunday ahead of the landmark summit. (Photo by Sion Ang/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have become on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un (3rd from left) leaves the Singapore's Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands on night before summit on June 11, 2018 in Singapore. (Photo by Chris Jung/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (R) walks with US President Donald Trump (L) during a break in talks at their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un became on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)
SINGAPORE - JUNE 11: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) walks along the Jubilee bridge during a tour of some of the sights on June 11, 2018 in Singapore. The historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been scheduled in Singapore for June 12 as a small circle of experts have already been involved in talks towards the landmark summit in the city-state. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
People watch a television screen showing live footage of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, at a railway station in Seoul on June 12, 2018. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SINGAPORE - JUNE 11: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers questions at a press briefing June 11, 2018 in Singapore. Pompeo answered a range of questions related primarily to the historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for tomorrow June 12 in Singapore. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
SINGAPORE - JUNE 11: National Security Council press spokesman Robert Palladino (4th R) answers questions from reporters at the White House press filing center June 11, 2018 in Singapore. The historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore as both leaders arrived in the Southeast Asian city-state on Sunday ahead of the landmark summit. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
SINGAPORE - JUNE 11: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION, REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) U.S. President Donald Trump (L6) participates in a working luncheon hosted by Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana, Singapore on June 11, 2018. Officials from both delegations also attended the luncheon. (Photo by Ministry of Communications and Information, Republic of Singapore / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 11: In this handout provided by the Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore, U.S. President Donald Trump (R) with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (L) on June 11, 2018 in Singapore, Singapore. The historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been scheduled in Singapore for June 12 as the world awaits for the landmark summit in the Southeast Asian city-state. (Photo by Ministry of Communications and Information Singapore/via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) as they sit down for their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have become on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Armed police officers patrol outside JW Marriot South Beach Hotel, a Marriott Group property, in Singapore, on Monday, June 11, 2018. Trump�met Prime Minister�Lee�Hsien Loong�at the city-state's presidential palace for more than two hours Monday for discussions that were expected to include everything from summit preparations to the U.S.'s tariff threats. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bodyguards of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un arrive at The Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Police officers walk around the perimeter of the Capella Hotel on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa, June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon
The motorcade transporting U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the Istana in Singapore June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
U.S. President Donald Trump and his delegation have lunch with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and officials at the Istana in Singapore June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Official cameramen follow the motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su
The motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Feline Lim TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Police stand guard outside the Capella Hotel in Singapore, on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. President�Donald Trump�plans to shake hands and have lunch with North Korean leader�Kim Jong Un, kicking off a historic summit on Tuesday between two adversaries that only last year had seemed at the brink of nuclear war. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People watch a television screen showing live footage of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, at a railway station in Seoul on June 12, 2018. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch a television screen showing live footage of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, at a railway station in Seoul on June 12, 2018. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION, REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) U.S. President Donald Trump (L) leaves after his meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (not seen) as part of the US-North Korea summit in Sentosa island, on June 12, 2018 at Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore. (Photo by Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION, REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) U.S. President Donald Trump waves his hand as he leaves after his meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (not seen) as part of the US-North Korea summit in Sentosa island, on June 12, 2018 at Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore. (Photo by Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Army Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Paul Eaton, a senior adviser to the advocacy group VoteVets.org, said, "It is wholly inappropriate for the commander in chief of our armed forces to salute the military of our adversary, especially one which is responsible for a regime of terror, murder and unspeakable horror against its own people."

Col. Jack Jacobs, a Medal of Honor recipient and an NBC News analyst, said that the North Korean general's salute was a sign of respect but Trump's salute "seemed like a reflexive action."

"If I had been his military aide I would have told him, 'They're going to salute you, but don't return the salute, just move smartly down the line.'"

In the military, a salute is a sign of respect, with a junior officer or junior enlisted service member always saluting first.

While civilians do not return a salute from a military member, the President is the Commander in Chief and will generally return a salute from US military service members but not military from other nations.

In 2009 during his first visit to Japan as President, Barack Obama bowed deeply from the waist when greeting Japanese Emperor Akihito, eliciting criticism from conservatives who said the gesture projected weakness on the world stage.

Donald Trump was quick to criticize President Obama a few years later when he bowed during a greeting of Saudi King Abdullah in 2012. "@BarackObama bowed to Saudi king in public — yet the Dems are questioning @MittRomney's diplomatic skills," Trump tweeted.

A salute is a sacred element of military service and history. US military members are taught the salute originated in Roman times when knights in armor would raise their visors with their right hand when greeting a fellow knight.

According to a New York Times story from 2009, Ronald Reagan was thought to be the first president to begin returning salutes regularly. He had sought advice from the commandant of the Marine Corps, who told him that as commander in chief he could salute anyone he liked.

In September 2014 President Obama saluted with a cup of coffee in his hand, drawing criticism from conservatives and retired military who deemed it the latte salute and displayed it as a evidence of Obama lack of understanding about the military.

Asked about the salute by NBC News, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said he hadn't seen the video, "so it's tough for me to comment on that."

The White House did not immediately respond to an additional request for comment.

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