He missed a friendly basketball match with South Korean players last week and did not meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend.
But "there is no difference" between the two phrases and North Korea clearly understands it, Pompeo insisted during a joint news conference in Tokyo after the trilateral meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Taro Kono and Kang Kyung-wha.
But a series of recent reports based on US intelligence officials and satellite images have shown that the North Koreans are continuing their nuclear activities and expanding infrastructure, raising skepticism over their intentions.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, speaks during a meeting with North Korea's director of the United Front Department, Kim Yong Chol, right, at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, July 6, 2018. In its statement Saturday, the North envisaged "simultaneous" steps by the two sides and a declaration on ending the 1950-53 Korean War, for which a peace treaty was never signed. US news accounts in recent days have shown pictures of what is said to be the expansion of nuclear-related buildings in North Korea.
Pompeo insisted the talks were making progress, but as soon as he left, the North's foreign ministry berated him over his "unilateral and gangster-like" demands and for offering no constructive steps on the USA side.
The pair provided few details on their lives in North Korea, although Kim Byeong-uk said his work in the civil service was as a provincial official in the far northeast of the country.
Pompeo presented a "unilateral and gangster-like" demand for "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization (CVID), the North's foreign ministry said in a statement issued after his departure. "But it's an old plan", said Kim, who teaches North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul and runs a small private economic research firm.
While few think that the world would be better off with increased tensions between the US and North Korea - except perhaps national security adviser John Bolton - Trump's pathetic attempts at diplomacy have squandered an actual opportunity to move toward long-term peace.
He also accused China, the North's sole, yet powerful, ally, of seeking to undermine the deal.
The UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea on Tuesday called on the South Korean government to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the defection of North Korean restaurant workers in 2016, saying some of the workers were "victims" of a scam.
The secretary of state acknowledged that "the road ahead will be hard and challenging" and vowed to keep punishing economic sanctions in place "until final fully verified denuclearization" is achieved. The US president is said to consider personal rapport between leaders as key in bilateral negotiations between nations.