Donald Trump North Korea Kim Jong Un people joke Fox _00001027.jpg
Donald Trump North Korea Kim Jong Un people joke Fox _00001027.jpg
PHOTO: Fox News
Now playing
01:20
Trump jokes about wanting Americans to be like N. Koreans
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:52
Trump: Kim Jong Un has been open, terrific
PHOTO: Pleiades © CNES 2018, Distribution Airbus DS
Now playing
01:08
New North Korea images spark concern
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (3rd L) shakes hands with North Korea
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (3rd L) shakes hands with North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho (3rd R) as they arrive for a group photo at the ASEAN Regional Forum Retreat during the 51st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Singapore on August 4, 2018. - Leaders, ministers and representatives are meeting in the city-state from August 1 to 4 for the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM). (Photo by Mohd RASFAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: MOHD RASFAN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:49
Pompeo delivers Trump's letter to N. Korea
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump (R) poses with North Korea
TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump (R) poses 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)
PHOTO: SAUL LOEB/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:11
UN: N. Korea still pursuing missiles program
TOPSHOT - North Korea
TOPSHOT - North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shakes hands 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)
PHOTO: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:25
Pompeo: Kim Jong Un not acting consistently
PHOTO: Airbus Defense and Space
Now playing
01:44
New images show N. Korea dismantling test site
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:32
Clarke: Trump diminishes US role and influence
Now playing
01:16
Source: N. Korea seeking 'bold move' from US
Now playing
02:07
Trump privately expressed N. Korea frustration
PHOTO: Photo Illustration/Getty images
Now playing
02:01
North Korea officials skip meeting with US
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 12:  In this handout photograph provided by The Strait Times, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) with U.S. President Donald Trump (R) during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held the historic meeting between leaders of both countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, carrying hopes to end decades of hostility and the threat of North Korea
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: In this handout photograph provided by The Strait Times, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) with U.S. President Donald Trump (R) during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held the historic meeting between leaders of both countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, carrying hopes to end decades of hostility and the threat of North Korea's nuclear programme. (Photo by Kevin Lim/The Strait Times/Handout/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Kevin Lim/The Strait Times/Handout/Getty Images
Now playing
01:28
Trump touts North Korea denuclearization
SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: In this handout photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held the historic meeting between leaders of both countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, carrying hopes to end decades of hostility and the threat of North Korea
SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: In this handout photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held the historic meeting between leaders of both countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, carrying hopes to end decades of hostility and the threat of North Korea's nuclear program. (Photo by Kevin Lim/THE STRAITS TIMES/Handout/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Handout/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Now playing
01:56
Kim Jong Un snubbed Mike Pompeo, source says
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, speaks during a meeting with North Korean Director of the United Front Department Kim Yong Chol at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, Friday, July 6, 2018. Pompeo is on a trip traveling to North Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Abu Dhabi, and Brussels. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, speaks during a meeting with North Korean Director of the United Front Department Kim Yong Chol at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, Friday, July 6, 2018. Pompeo is on a trip traveling to North Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Abu Dhabi, and Brussels. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
PHOTO: Andrew Harnik/AP
Now playing
02:09
N. Korea to Pompeo: You may not have slept well
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09:  National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks on a morning television show from the grounds of the White House, on May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Yesterday President Donald Trump announced that America was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks on a morning television show from the grounds of the White House, on May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Yesterday President Donald Trump announced that America was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Now playing
01:34
Bolton: US has plan for denuclearizing N. Korea
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, second from right, greets Kim Yong Chol, second from left, a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, as they arrive for a meeting at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, Friday, July 6, 2018. Pompeo is on a trip traveling to North Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Abu Dhabi, and Brussels. Also pictured is Andrew Kim, the head of the CIA
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, second from right, greets Kim Yong Chol, second from left, a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, as they arrive for a meeting at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, Friday, July 6, 2018. Pompeo is on a trip traveling to North Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Abu Dhabi, and Brussels. Also pictured is Andrew Kim, the head of the CIA's Korea Mission Center, right. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
PHOTO: Andrew Harnik/AP
Now playing
02:43
Trump touts confidence in Kim Jong Un
(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump on Friday defended his warm praise of Kim Jong Un, saying his newfound affinity for the North Korean dictator was making Americans safer.

At the same time, Trump expressed esteem for the forced deference North Koreans show for their leader and joked he wished “my people” would do the same.

Asked why he’s warmed to Kim, Trump insisted he was defusing a nuclear standoff.

“I don’t want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family,” he told reporters during an impromptu question-and-answer session at the White House.

“I want to have a good relationship with North Korea. I want to have a good relationship with many other countries,” Trump said. “We had great chemistry. He gave us a lot.”

The remarks, which came three days after Trump met Kim in Singapore for an unprecedented and friendly summit, are likely to do little to allay concerns that Trump has shown too much regard for a brutal despot, one responsible for the death of at least one American and of countless North Koreans.

Pressed on that record, Trump demurred.

“I can’t speak to that,” he said. “I can only speak to the fact that we signed an incredible agreement.”

Since returning from his summit with Kim, Trump has referred to Kim as “funny,” “smart,” “very talented,” and someone who “loves his people.”

He’s also spoken with barely contained awe about the displays of reverence North Koreans are obligated to show toward their supreme leader.

“He’s the head of the country,” Trump said of Kim Friday during a live interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “And I mean he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different.”

“He speaks and his people sit up at attention,” the President added. “I want my people to do the same.”

Later Friday, Trump told reporters at the White House his remark was a joke.

“I was kidding,” he said. “You don’t understand sarcasm.”

North Korea has perpetuated human rights abuses for decades, according to watchdog agencies, human rights groups and the US government.

In his first five years in power, Kim has ordered 340 people to be executed, about 140 were senior officers in the country’s government and military, according to a 2016 report from the Institute for National Security Strategy, a South Korean think tank.

In June 2016, a top education official was executed by firing squad after he exercised a “bad attitude” at the country’s Supreme People’s Assembly. Kim’s defense minister was executed in May 2015 with an anti-aircraft gun at a Pyongyang military school, before an audience.

According to Trump, the two leaders privately discussed human rights and Kim reacted “very well” during their Tuesday summit.

CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

This story has been updated.