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Kim Yo Jong uses ‘Republic of Korea’ for the first time

Kim Yo Jong uses ‘Republic of Korea’ for the first time

Posted July. 12, 2023 08:00,   

Updated July. 12, 2023 08:00


Speculations are swirling around the unprecedented use of the term “Republic of Korea” by Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and deputy director of the Workers’ Party, in her criticism of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK)’s deployment of surveillance flights, issued on Monday and Tuesday for two consecutive days. North Korea has been referring to South Korea as either “South Joseon” or “South Joseon puppet state.” Some interpret this as the North’s change in its official stance towards the South, considering it neither as one nation nor as the subject of unification but as a “separate nation.” Others suggest that the North, having declared to use tactical nuclear weapons against the South, is intended to categorize South Korea as an “enemy state” to justify future military provocations.

In her statement on Tuesday, Kim described the South as “Military Gangsters of the Republic of Korea.” In a statement the day before, she said, “The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Republic of Korea” and “The Republic of Korea Clan,” using the double angle bracket it employs for either emphasis or condemnation. Using such symbols implies that the expression‎ is meant for specific purposes or intentions. A source at the government said North Korea employed a strategy of portraying South Korea as an “enemy state” in the past. Still, it has never used the term “Republic of Korea” specifically to refer to South Korea.

Some are concerned that North Korea has conclusively defined South Korea as a separate enemy state, rather than one nation, to embark on military provocations at a more intensified level. “That the North treating the South as a separate state is intended for de facto justification of its use of tactical nuclear weapons against South Korea,” said Hong Min, director of the Korea Institute for National Unification. “The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons targeting the South is in discord with the previous stance of treating the South as one nation, and this is why the North has changed its stance towards the South,” Hong said.

Kim Yo Jong argued that the U.S. Forces Korea’s spy plane activities were strictly “a matter between the North and the U.S.,” implying that it would directly talk with the U.S. without mediation of South Korea.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com