Kim Yo Jong belligerently criticized Seoul and South Korean experts for their downgrading of her country’s missile tests, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), one of North Korea’s main state-controlled media, reported on Tuesday.
“Yesterday I watched a lot of so-called experts competitively saying words in a row. As always, they were like a kind of chattering sparrow,” KCNA quoted Kim, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, as saying.
North Korea conducted “an important final-stage test for the development of reconnaissance satellite” on Sunday, which the South Korean military announced as the launches of two medium-range ballistic missiles. Along with the details of the test, North Korea also published captured images of the areas of Seoul and Incheon, but they were downplayed by some South Korean experts due to the considerably low resolution of the imagery. Some have questioned whether the camera attached to the projectile launched on Sunday captured the areas of Seoul and Incheon, while others said that the demonstrated technology will not be able to function as a military reconnaissance satellite due to the low resolution.
“Those so-called experts seem to have nothing to say without news that we give, and I am ‘concerned’ that they can get salary properly there,” Kim said. “…The so-called experts were so keen on finding fault with others that they could not but make such senseless words.”
She brought up a few remarks by South Korean experts quoted in South Korean media reports who downgraded the North’s reconnaissance satellite test on Sunday. After criticizing the remarks of the experts, Kim questioned whether “it was too inadequate and imprudent” to analyze the capabilities of the satellite which is still in the development process based on “the two photos taken by the test-type panchromatic camera.”
“Who will install and test an expensive high-resolution camera for a single-shot test which takes no more than 830 seconds[?]” Kim asked rhetorically.
Reiterating the main goals of the National Aerospace Development Administration for its reconnaissance satellite test on Sunday, she repeatedly questioned the intention of the South Korean experts’ depreciation of the North’s reconnaissance satellite test, calling it “malicious criticism.”
“I am wondering what those, who are now so desperate to depreciate our technical ability, would say to slander us when our military satellite is in operation anytime soon,” Kim said.
Kim also brought up past remarks made by the military experts and officials in Seoul over North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests.
“If we were to develop an ICBM, we test-fire it undisguised, not as a ‘satellite carrier’ spread by the South Korean puppets to the public,” Kim said. “I’m quite curious to see if the world actually believes any longer of their unpersuasive arguments that we fired a long-range missile on the pretext of a satellite to acquire the long-range missile development technology.”
Kim also questioned over capability of the South Korean military’s anti-missile and intelligence systems, pointing out the repeated references to “close cooperation between the South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities.”
“Have they ever announced anything in advance or proven the type of projectile or even the location of our test-fire properly from their ‘precision tracking’ before?” She recounted several instances where North Korea claimed it had launched missiles from a location different than the South Korean military initially reported.
South Korean military and experts have also shown their doubts about the capability of the North’s Hwasong-17 ICBM. Kim hinted that Pyongyang will launch an ICBM “in the way of real angle firing straight off” to clear up the doubts. Kim also vowed not to “step back from the development of reconnaissance satellite at any price.”
Hours after KCNA published Kim’s eye-catching statement, the South Korean Defense Ministry said that its military conducted joint air drills with the U.S. military on Tuesday involving U.S. B-52 strategic bombers and F-22 stealth fighters. The U.S. F-22 stealth fighters were deployed for the first time since 2018. The South’s F-35A stealth jets and F-15K fighters were also mobilized in the drills.
Since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office in May, Seoul and Washington have reinvigorated their joint military drills in a bid to deter the North’s nuclear and missile threats. In November, the two countries held the 54th Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in Washington and reaffirmed their joint resolve in the face of the North’s missile threats and their common goal – the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
In light of Kim’s warning about launching an ICBM at a realistic angle, we can expect to see more active corresponding measures from the U.S. and South Korea.