US Vice President Mike Pence stared across the demilitarized border between North Korea and South Korea on Monday, a day after the North's failed missile launch, reiterating that the US's "era of strategic patience" with Pyongyang was over.
Pence is on an Asia-Pacific tour that will include visits to Japan, Indonesia and Australia. Standing along the DMZ, Pence described the border as a "frontier of freedom" and also said that the United States "has always sought peace through strength and my message here today... standing with the courageous soldiers from the Republic of Korea is a message of resolve".
Did the US know this was coming? On Thursday, the US military said it had dropped "the mother of all bombs", the largest non-nuclear device it has ever unleashed in combat, on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in Afghanistan.
Earlier on Monday, National Security Adviser General HR McMaster said the United States and its allies agreed that the North Korea "problem is coming to a head".
"We're going to abandon the failed policy of strategic patience".
As the brown bomber jacket-clad Mr Pence was briefed near the military demarcation line, two North Korean soldiers watched on, with one taking photographs of the vice president.
"But the era of strategic patience is over", he declared. But some of those restrictions merely put in place United Nations sanctions passed previous year with China's support - before Trump took office.
Trump said on Sunday that he refrained from labeling China a currency manipulator in part because of the country's help in dealing with North Korea.
North Korea continues to resort to brinksmanship despite the growing global pressure against its nuclear and missile provocations.
They have heard North Korean warnings of their destruction for so long that the threats barely even register.
After 25 years of trying to deal patiently with North Korea over its nuclear program, Pence said, "all options are on the table" to deal with threat.
Keeping up the verbal volleying, North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador accused the United States of turning the Korean peninsula into "the world's biggest hotspot" and creating "a unsafe situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment". China says the THAAD system comes with powerful radar that can penetrate its territory and undermine its security. Monday afternoon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang called for the resumption of "multi-party negotiations that ended in stalemate in 2009", according to The Associated Press.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking to reporters Monday evening, said he hoped there would be "no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the USA will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign".
North Korea's state newspaper has hinted that the failure of its missile on Sunday could have been caused by a United States cyber attack.
Appearing later with South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, the vice president pointed to Trump's recent military actions in Syria and Afghanistan as signs that the new administration would not shrink from acting against the North.
The redeployment of an aircraft carrier strike group back to the Korean Peninsula heightened speculation about the White House's plan of action. Lu said China efforts to help achieve denuclearization were clear, adding: "China is not the initiator of the Korean peninsula nuclear issue".
The North Korean mouthpiece said this meant that apart from "showing off through force", the United States had no better counter-measures.
The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland.
"I think, in some way, my Dad just might be smiling from heaven to see the sacrifices that he and other American soldiers and South Korean soldiers made here are now passed on to my generation".