“She presumptuously poured out ludicrous remarks,” Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said regarding South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Wednesday. “She seems to be desperate to make the cold inter-Korean relations even icier.” It was Kim’s warning against Minister Kang who recently said COVID-19 is making North Korea more North Korea at an international meeting. This was Kim’s statement that came out six months after bilateral interactions were suspended under the leadership of Kim with the explosion of the Inter-Korean Liaison Office.
Kim’s remarks have been made during U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun’s visit to South Korea and ahead of the South Korean National Assembly’s processing of the law banning the dissemination of propaganda leaflets to North Korea. It was meant to put pressure on the South while attracting attention from the U.S. Kim Yo Jong was at the forefront of attacking South Korea with harsh comments in June and stepped back according to Kim Jong Un’s instruction. She mentioned in a message to the U.S. in July that she wants to get a DVD for the U.S.’ Independence Day celebration indicating her willingness to meet with the U.S. counterparts but remained silent afterward.
The reappearance of Kim Yo Jong is to show off her presence as the country’s second in command in charge of external relations during the time of U.S. power transition while trying to see how South Korea and the U.S. react. North Korea is more disappointed than anyone else that the Trump-style top-down negotiations will be gone. With the upcoming launch of the Joe Biden administration, North Korea has been cautious, ordering its overseas diplomatic offices to not provoke the U.S. and refraining from criticizing the South. This was why South Korea's Unification Minister Lee In-young said the inter-Korean relations are making a U-turn.
As if to laugh at such an expectation, North Korea is sending threatening messages with the sister of the country’s top leader. However, there is a sense of anxiousness for the challenging present and the uncertain future. North Korea is using expressions, such as “severely harsh suffering” and “unprecedented hardship,” to describe the tightening sanctions against the country and lockdowns from COVID-19. Yet, it is arrogant as if it can easily tame a South Korean minister. Such an attitude will only prolong the pain of hunger, rather than resolving crises.