Seoul, South Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister says her country will never accept South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s ‘senseless’ offer of economic benefits in exchange for denuclearization measures, accusing Seoul of recycling the proposals already rejected by Pyongyang.
In a comment published by state media on Friday, Kim Yo Jong stressed that his country has no intention of handing over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program to economic cooperation, saying that “no one is trading away their destiny. for corn cake”.
She questioned the sincerity of South Korea’s calls for better bilateral relations as it continues its combined military exercises with the United States and fails to stop civilian activists from flying propaganda leaflets anti-Pyongyang and other “dirty trash” across their border.
She also ridiculed South Korea’s military capabilities, saying the South misinterpreted the launch site for the North’s latest missile tests on Wednesday, hours before Yoon used a press conference to urge Pyongyang to return. to diplomacy.
“It would have been better for his image to be quiet, rather than talk nonsense because he had nothing better to say,” she said of Yoon.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, expressed “strong regret” over Kim Yo Jong’s comments, and Yoon’s office called on Pyongyang to exercise “self-restraint” and to “think deeply” about Seoul’s offer.
“This attitude of North Korea will not only threaten peace on the Korean peninsula, but will cause new hardships for the North by worsening its international isolation and economic situation,” said Lee Hyo-jung, spokesperson for the Ministry of Peace. Unification, during a press briefing.
Last week, Kim Yo Jong threatened ‘deadly’ retaliation against the South over the COVID-19 outbreak in the North, which he said was caused by leaflets and other objects dropped for decades. balloons launched by activists from the South.
Yoon, in a nationally televised address on Monday, offered a “bold” economic aid package for North Korea if it takes steps to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. Large-scale aid offers in the areas of food and health care and modernization of power generation systems, seaports and airports were not significantly different from previous South Korean offers. rejected by the North, which accelerate the development of an arsenal that Kim Jong Un considers his best guarantee of survival.
Kim Yo Jong, one of the most powerful officials in his brother’s government who oversees inter-Korean affairs, said Yoon displayed the “peak of absurdity” with his offer, saying it was realistic to create ” mulberry fields in the dark blue ocean”.
She said South Korea’s words and actions would only incite “increasing hatred and anger” among North Koreans and insisted that Pyongyang had no immediate plans to relaunch a stalled diplomacy with Seoul. “It’s our sincere desire to live without knowing each other,” she said.
Inter-Korean relations have soured amid a stalemate in broader North Korea-US nuclear talks that were derailed in 2019 over disagreements over an easing of crippling US-led sanctions against the North in exchange for disarmament measures.
There are fears that Kim Yo Jong’s threats last week over distributing leaflets could portend a provocation, the possibilities of which could include a nuclear or missile test or even border skirmishes. The United States and South Korea will launch their largest combined training in years to counter the North Korean threat next week. The North describes these drills as invasion rehearsals and has often responded to them with missile tests or other provocations.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Yoon expressed hope for a meaningful dialogue with the North over his disarmament aid offer. Keeping a reserved tone, Yoon said his government did not plan to pursue its own nuclear deterrent and did not want political change in Pyongyang brought about by force.
Yoon spoke hours after the South Korean military detected North Korea firing two suspected cruise missiles out to sea and identified the western coastal site of Onchon as the launch location. Kim Yo Jong in his column said the weapons were fired from a bridge in the city of Anju, north of Onchon and further inland, and ridiculed South Korean and American abilities to monitor the North Korean missile activity. The Southern military has yet to release the analyzed flight details of these missiles.
“If the data and the flight path (of the missiles) are known, (the South) will be so perplexed and scared,” Kim Yo Jong said. “It will be a worthy thing to see how they explain it to their people.”
The latest launches extended a record pace of North Korean missile testing in 2022, which involved more than 30 ballistic launches, including the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile demonstrations in nearly five years.
North Korea’s intensive testing activity underscores its dual intent to advance its arsenal and to force the United States to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power so that it can negotiate economic concessions and security in a position of strength, according to experts.
Kim Jong Un could raise the bar as soon as there are indications that the North is preparing to carry out its first nuclear test since September 2017, when it claimed to have developed a thermonuclear weapon to fit its ICBMs.