A Japan-based North Korean media outlet published a column Friday condemning U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton for his alleged embrace of “simple thinking, racism and the narrow-minded America First policy.”
The Choson Sinbo column “Bolton’s Identity” is the latest salvo from a publication tied to the repressive communist state in a string of insults against the adviser, who incensed the Kim Jong-un regime by suggesting that Washington will not accept anything short of complete and irreversible denuclearization in negotiations to end its illegal nuclear weapons program.
The South Korean news service Yonhap translated the column, which reads in part, “[Bolton] has no clear ideology or theory. Instead, he is a simple follower of simple thinking, racism and the narrow-minded America First policy.”
The column quotes First Vice Minister Kim Kye-gwan, who last week dismissed Bolton as an “absurd” figure in the U.S. government, stating that his remarks “carry weight.”
“Noting Bolton was condemned by Pyongyang as human scum in the past, the newspaper said that he has a history of hindering the progress of bilateral relations by harshly slandering the North’s top leader and regime,” Yonhap reports.
In addition to citing Kye-gwan’s remarks, the piece echoes his sentiment, revealed in a statement carried by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“High-ranking officials … including Bolton, White House national security adviser, are letting loose the assertions of so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment, ‘complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,'” Kye-gwan noted this week. “Unbridled remarks provoking the other side of dialogue are recklessly made in the U.S. and I am totally disappointed as these constitute extremely unjust behavior.”
Kim Kye-gwan dismisses Bolton as “sinister” and “absolutely absurd.”
“We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him,” Kye-gwan concluded.
North Korea’s state media has spent more than a decade insulting John Bolton for demanding that rogue regimes like Pyongyang’s are held accountable for their rampant human rights abuses and threatening global stability.
In 2014, KCNA called Bolton a “wicked conservative politician” for allegedly having “zealously prodded the Sony Pictures Entertainment into distributing” The Interview, a film mocking Kim Jong-un, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. There is no evidence that Bolton had any involvement in the production of that film.
Prior to that, in 2008, KCNA berated Bolton for an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal urging the world to increase the severity of sanctions on the Kim regime.
“Bolton, known to be a most hawkish element in the U.S., in an article contributed to the recent issue of the Wall Street Journal, asked the authorities to stop the six-party talks and increase the international pressure upon the DPRK,” KCNA reported. “Should the U.S. conservative hard-liners push the situation on the peninsula and the DPRK-U.S. relations to the worst phase … the U.S. will be held wholly responsible for the ensuing catastrophic consequences, warns the commentary.”
A year prior, KCNA warned that unspecified powers-that-be in Washington were scheming to bring “such guys as Bolton to return to the [Obama] administration.”
In 2003, while Bolton served as Undersecretary of State, North Korea banned him from participating in any bilateral talks, branding him “human scum.”
What appears to have infuriated North Korea this time is Bolton’s insistence that any benefits North Korea receives from being reintroduced into the community of respectable nations must be contingent upon Kim Jong-un ceasing to threaten the nuclear annihilation of South Korea, Japan, and the United States.
“We want to see the denuclearization process so completely underway that it is irreversible,” Bolton said in an interview on ABC News on May 15. “The implementation of the decision means getting rid of all the nuclear weapons, dismantling them, taking them to Oak Ridge, Tennessee.”
Bolton also used the term “Libya model” to describe how full denuclearization of North Korea could occur. Libya dismantled its nuclear program and sent all components to the Oak Ridge location. The mention of Libya triggered North Korea’s outraged reaction, as state media has warned for years that the lesson to take from the Libya example is that Muammar Qaddafi could have remained in power for longer had he not given up his nuclear program. Historians and political experts do not unilaterally agree with this conclusion, though those quoted in North Korean state media often do.
In an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation last month, Bolton also suggested that the Trump administration not blindly believe North Korea’s “propaganda” about itself.
“We’re also looking at what North Korea itself has committed to previously and, most importantly, I think going back over a quarter of a century to the 1992 joint North-South denuclearization agreement where North Korea committed to give up nuclear weapons and committed to give up uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing,” he stated. “We want to see real commitment. We don’t want to see propaganda from North Korea.”
Bolton has been one of the few members of the Trump administration to bring up North Korea’s decades-long history of human rights abuses against its people and abducted Japanese, South Korea, and American civilians who have endured its brutal prison camps.
Kim Jong-un remains schedule to meet President Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore.