Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and main voice on inter-Korean relations, criticized the South Korean Foreign Ministry’s announcement that it would examine its “independent measures” on Thursday.
“As soon as the U.S. talked about its ‘independent sanctions’ against the DPRK, South Korea parroted what the former said. This disgusting act shows more clearly that the South Korean group is a ‘faithful dog’ and stooge of the U.S.,” Kim said in her statement published in Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), one of the North’s main state-controlled media. (DRPK is an acronym of the North’s official name: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.)
This statement came two days after KCNA published another Kim statement criticizing the U.N. Security Council to hold a meeting to discuss her country’s Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.
In the past few weeks, North Korea has launched dozens of ballistic missiles including its newest Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and hundreds of artillery shells to respond to joint military drills between the South and the U.S.
After the North launched a Hwasong-17 ICBM on November 18, a meeting of the U.N. Security Council was held upon the request of the United States on November 21. However, as China and Russia, also permanent members of the Security Council, have pointed fingers at U.S. military engagement in the drills with the South and Japan as the main cause for escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, no additional sanctions were discussed in the meeting, leading the North to secure room to increase its leverage in the region with the backing of China and Russia.
“If the master and the servant still attach themselves to the useless ‘sanctions,’ we will let them do that one hundred or thousand times,” Kim said. The master and the servant were references to the U.S. and the South, respectively.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the U.S. will be proposing “a presidential statement.” The Chinese and Russian vetoes in the Security Council diminish the scale of the international response, diminishing also the deterrent value of international censure.
As the North’s seventh nuclear test looms, South Korea has warned that it may impose “independent sanctions” against the North. The South’s spy agency previously speculated the North’s nuclear test could take place sometime between October 16 to November 7, but it did not. Instead, the North has focused on launching dozens of ballistic missiles and hundreds of artillery shells in the past few weeks. Now, the expected timeline for the North’s next nuclear test has shifted to March 2023 but it is still unclear when exactly Kim Jong Un will order the test.
As the U.N. Security Council is not united enough to punish the North for its missile launches, South Korea has shown its will to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. to tackle North Korea issues. At this stage, imposing independent sanctions targeting the North’s illicit cyber activities involving its cryptocurrency theft is currently on the table. However, as North Korea has already been the target of the devastating economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the U.N., it is questionable how the South’s “independent sanctions” could be effective enough to induce the North to shift from nuclear development to denuclearization.
“If they think that they can escape from the present dangerous situation through ‘sanctions,’ they must be really idiots as they do not know how to live in peace and comfort,” Kim said.
Days after South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol proposed his “audacious initiative,” an economic package aimed to induce the North toward denuclearization, Kim Yo Jong denounced his plan by saying that it is just “a replica” of former President Lee Myung-bak’s “Vision 3000: Denuclearization and Openness.” Such criticism was made by experts, too, as Yoon’s plan can only be carried out once the North shows its “will” or takes steps toward denuclearization – which had already been verified as “mission impossible” over the past decades.
“I wonder why the South Korean people still remain a passive onlooker to such acts of the ‘government’ of Yoon Suk-yeol and other idiots who continue creating the dangerous situation,” Kim said. Unlike the rough English-version of her statement, Kim did not use the term “government” in the Korean-version of the statement. “Idiots” directly referred to Yoon, rather unnaturally, in her statement in Korean. Seoul’s Unification Ministry expressed strong regrets and condemned the North’s attempt to instigate an antigovernment campaign in the South.
After Kim’s statement belittling Yoon and his policy initiative in August, this was her second discourteous statement on Yoon, showing Pyongyang’s firm stance that it will not engage in any cooperation with the Yoon administration. In Kim’s previous statement in August, she compared Yoon with a “knave” and explicitly derided him by saying that “we don’t like Yoon Suk-yeol himself.”
With Pyongyang’s continued denigration of Yoon, Kim also implied that Seoul is now Pyongyang’s target and warned that “the desperate sanctions and pressure of the U.S. and its South Korean stooges against the DPRK will add fuel to the latter’s hostility and anger and they will serve as a noose for them.”
As Pyongyang has signaled more provocative measures toward Seoul and Washington, the tensions on the Korean Peninsula will likely keep escalating with no room for renewing the stalled inter-Korean dialogue and North Korea-U.S. nuclear talks.