Trump's Spectacular Speech From Seoul

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech as South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun, top, listens at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea,

Wow. President Trump wrapped up his visit to South Korea with a speech square in the tradition of President Ronald Reagan. It's not just that he talked about the long conflict on the Korean peninsula: the "dazzling light" of South Korea versus the "impenetrable darkness" of the North, the glories of freedom versus the toll of tyranny, the line that separates them just north of Seoul, and America's commitment to defending it. What made this a landmark speech is that Trump explained, vividly and in detail, why the internal depravities of the North Korean regime are intimately entwined with its nuclear program and its threats to South Korea and the rest of the Free World. Coming from an American president, this was a speech the world has long needed to hear.

In recent decades, previous American presidents have talked about the monstrous character of North Korea's regime, periodically chiding and deploring, but without illuminating in depth and detail the full picture. President Bush, in his 2002 State of the Union Address, listed North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, as part of an "axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world." But in that speech Bush devoted only a single sentence to North Korea itself, summarizing that its regime was "arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction while starving its citizens." Such short shrift has been pretty much the approach of recent American presidents -- Clinton, Bush and Obama -- in speaking publicly about North Korea. Chasing the Chimera that appeasement might help promote peace with Pyongyang, they've usually left it to their underlings to make the most damning pronouncements, piecemeal, rather than wield the presidential prerogative to speak fully and forthrightly from the bully pulpit.

Not any more. Trump has just connected enough dots to map clearly the links between North Korea's human rights atrocities and its nuclear weapons program. He sketched the background, talking about the history of the American-South Korean alliance, going back to the 1950-53 Korean War, "from the Inchon landings to Pork Chop Hill." He talked about the enormous sacrifice it took to recapture Seoul and drive the invading Communists back north "to form the line that today divides the oppressed and the free.... And there, American and South Korean troops have remained together holding that line for nearly seven decades."

Most significantly, Trump spelled out in detail how the Kim family regime maintains its totalitarian control to the north of that line. He talked about the children stunted by malnutrition, and the system of political apartheid that doles out favors on the basis of loyalty, and leaves those deemed least loyal to starve. He spoke up about the famine of the 1990s, in which more than one million North Koreans died. He talked about how a single infraction against the regime, "such as accidentally staining a picture of the tyrant printed in a discarded newspaper," can wreck the lives of entire families for decades. He noted that today "an estimated 100,000 North Koreans suffer in gulags, toiling in forced labor, and enduring torture, starvation, rape, and murder on a constant basis."