March 14 (UPI) -- North Korea may be softening its media approach toward U.S. President Donald Trump, only months after calling Trump a "dotard" amid a war of words with Washington that followed the country's sixth nuclear test last September.
In a sign the Kim Jong Un regime is recognizing Trump's agreement to a summit with the North Korean leader, Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun replaced derogatory terms, like "madman," with "American ruler," in an article published Tuesday that criticized U.S. tariffs against imported steel and aluminum.
Calling the tariff measures "a trade war launched by the United States," the Rodong stated, "Recently the U.S. ruler announced a presidential decree, to place a 25 percent tariff on imported steel products and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum."
Previous North Korean statements have referred to Trump not only as a madman but also a "lunatic."
The pejoratives were omitted in an article that otherwise seemed typical of North Korean statements condemning U.S. policy.
South Korean newspaper JoongAng Daily reported Wednesday North Korea has previously referred to Trump as U.S. or American ruler.
But in the context of a news article disparaging U.S. policy, the careful avoidance of insulting Trump is a significant shift in language, the JoongAng said.
North Korea media does not issue reports of major events ahead of time, according to defectors who spoke to UPI on Monday, and by Wednesday Pyongyang had yet to make references to the U.S.-North Korea planned for May.
North Korea did issue a false statement on Wednesday, however, claiming South Koreans are seeking the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the peninsula.
"What South Koreans want is an unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops from the South, an unwelcome guest that poses a threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula," North Korea stated, according to Yonhap.
Pyongyang also condemned ongoing talks on defense cost sharing between Seoul and Washington.