What to Make of Kim Yo Jong’s Verbal Attack of South Korea’s Defense Minister
Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a leading voice on inter-Korean relations, said on Sunday that “South Korea may face a serious threat,” according to the North’s state media.
“The senseless and scum-like guy dare mentioned the ‘preemptive strike’ at a nuclear weapons state, in his senseless bluster which will never be beneficial to South Korea, either,” Kim said in a reported statement.
The “guy” that Kim referred to in the statement is South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook, who recently underscored the South’s capability to take a preemptive strike against the North if there is any indication of the North launching missiles toward South Korea. Kim also called Suh “a confrontation maniac engrossed in the mindset of confrontation with his fellow countrymen in the North.”
“His reckless and intemperate rhetoric about the ‘preemptive strike’ has further worsened the inter-Korean relations and the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Kim said. Giving a serious warning toward the South, Kim used the “upon authorization” phrase to imply that her remarks came from her brother, Kim Jong Un.
Since taking office in 2017, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has focused his efforts on overtures to North Korea centered on dialogue. Against that backdrop, South Korean officials could not make strong remarks in response to North Korean moves, as Moon’s office even refrained from defining the North’s missile tests as “provocations.” However, new South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has explicitly taken a hawkish stance on North Korea and showed more conservative responses to the North’s missile tests. Thus Seoul’s Defense Ministry is now taking bolder moves to deter North Korea’s threats.
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