The politically powerful sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un offered a scathing rebuke to South Korea’s president, asking him to “shut his mouth” after he reiterated his offer of economic assistance in exchange for nuclear disarmament.
Escalating her profanity-laced heated tirade that she has fired off toward South Korea this month, Kim Yo-jong addressed Yoon Suk-yeol directly for the first time, blasting him for his “audacious” proposal.
“It would have been more favourable for his image to shut his mouth, rather than talking nonsense as he had nothing better to say,” she said about Mr Yoon, according to commentary published by state media on Friday.
South Korea’s unification minister, who handles relations with North Korea, denounced Ms Kim’s comments as “very disrespectful and indecent”.
Her comments came as Mr Yoon reiterated an economic assistance package, that he called “audacious,” to North Korea in return for Pyongyang abandoning its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programme.
The offer of large-scale aid in food and health care and modernising electricity generation systems and seaports and airports was first proposed in May and again reaffirmed on Wednesday when Mr Yoon marked his first 100 days in office.
Ms Kim branded Mr Yoon “really simple and still childish” to think that he could trade economic cooperation for the North’s honour and nuclear weapons.
“No one barters its destiny for corn cake,” she added.
She said the denuclearisation of North Korea is not a subject for political bargaining and said the proposal was “as stupid as trying to dry the dark blue ocean and turn it into a mulberry field”.
“We just don’t like Yoon Suk-yeol as a human being,” said Ms Kim, who took office in May and vowed to take a hard line toward Pyongyang.
Ms Kim, who oversees inter-Korean affairs, questioned the sincerity of South Korea’s calls to improve bilateral ties while it continues military drills with the US.
Hours before Mr Yoon was to address the nation marking his 100th day in office, North Korea fired two cruise missiles from the west coast town of Onchon. These are the first missile tests by North Korea in two months as the country battled a Covid-19 outbreak.
She ridiculed South Korea’s military capabilities and said Seoul misread the launch site of the North’s latest missile tests, suggesting Mr Yoon should have “shut his mouth”.
Lee Hyo-jung, a Unification Ministry spokesperson, said in a briefing: “This attitude from North Korea will not only threaten peace on the Korean peninsula but result in further difficulties for the North by worsening its international isolation and economic situation.”
He expressed strong “regret” over Ms Kim’s comments and urged Mr Kim’s office to show “self-restraint” and “think deeply” about Seoul’s offer.
Her latest statements mark an escalation of the heated rhetoric that she has fired off towards Mr Yoon’s administration this month.
She threatened “deadly” retaliation against the South over the Covid-19 outbreak in the North, which the North dubiously claims was caused by the tactic of dropping leaflets and other objects from balloons launched by activists from the South.
There are concerns that Ms Kim’s threats over the leafleting portend a provocation on the pretext of launching its seventh nuclear test or even border skirmishes.
This has prompted the US and South Korea to start their biggest combined training in years next week to counter the North Korean threat.
In her remarks, Ms Kim added on Friday that the South Korean president displayed the “height of absurdity” with his offer.
She said South Korea’s action would exacerbate “surging hatred and wrath” from North Koreans and insisted Pyongyang has no immediate plans to revive long-stalled diplomacy with Seoul.
“It is our earnest desire to live without awareness of each other,” she said.