Kim Yo-jong, a prominent North Korean politician and sister of communist dictator Kim Jong-un, published a “media statement” Monday warning President Joe Biden not to “cause a stink” unless he wished to suffer through sleepless nights.
Kim did not name Biden in her statement, which consisted mostly of threats towards South Korea, but did acknowledge that America is now governed by a “new U.S. administration,” the first time a high-level official has done so since Biden’s inauguration in January. North Korean state media mentioned Biden in its coverage of the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. A Reuters report form this weekend revealed the Biden administration has attempted to reach out to North Korean diplomats on multiple occasions but has been met with silence.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently on a tour of Japan and South Korea prior to a meeting with Chinese officials in Alaska. Observers expect Blinken to discuss tensions with North Korea with all three countries.
“We take this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land,” Kim wrote in her press statement Monday, published in multiple North Korean government media outlets. “If it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”
Kim did not elaborate on her statement, so it remains unclear what American actions she was addressing as giving “off powder smell.” The Biden administration has not made any significant public moves regarding its North Korea policy, other than to announce an overhaul of the largely successful policies in place under President Donald Trump. Trump’s pressure on the international community resulted in the imposition of global sanctions through the United Nations Security Council in 2017, the last time North Korea tested a nuclear weapon.
The majority of Kim’s statement focused on threatening South Korea for holding defensive military exercises.
“I heard the news that the south [sic] Korean authorities, who had long been suffering from stress in a fix, launched a war game against our Republic on Mar. 8,” Kim wrote. “In other words, they dared to send us a serious challenge. It seems as if they are capable of dealing with the consequences to be entailed by the war drill started despite our entirely just demand and all the fellow countrymen’s unanimous protest and condemnation.”
North and South Korea — and their respective allies, the United States and China — are technically at war. The Korean War, whose active hostilities ended in 1953, never concluded through a peace treaty. North Korea opposes all military exercises meant to maintain combat readiness in light of that war.
Kim called the exercises — and the justification that they are defensive — “ridiculous, impudent, and stupid.”
“It seems that they were all born with stupidity and have become the dumb and deaf bereft of judgment as they always sit on the fence,” she wrote of South Koreans. “They are not ashamed of remaining ignorant of the fact that we are not taken in by their nonsense coating mad dog with sheepskin.”
Kim concluded her missive by announcing that Pyongyang is considering dissolving the “the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country,” which serves to facilitate dialogue with Seoul; a tourism organization that the two nations agreed on creating to encourage exchanges; and the 2018 agreement between leftist South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un.
In recent years, Kim Jong-un has tasked his sister with being the face of stern punishment for the South, issuing statements on behalf of his regime filled with threats and vitriol — in contrast to Kim Jong-un’s more diplomatic and conciliatory tone. Kim Yo-jong was most prominently the face of North Korea’s decision to bomb a mutual liaison office located in the North Korean city of Kaesong last summer, which had cost South Korean taxpayers $13.9 million to build; North Korea spent no money on the project.
South Korea responded to Kim’s most recent statement on Tuesday, calling it “regrettable.”
“I find criticism of a defensive and annual exercise regrettable,” South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook told the nation’s lawmakers at a hearing, according to the news outlet Yonhap.
“As we’ve repeated, the Korea-U.S. combined exercise is a command post exercise which has been conducted on a regular basis and is defensive in nature,” Defense Ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan added in remarks to reporters. “Our stance is that North Korea should take a flexible stance, such as responding to our dialogue offer, for the establishment of permanent and solid peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
Kim’s statement was in part remarkable as her first public declaration since being expelled from the nation’s Politburo, the oligarchy that rules North Korea. Kim Jong-un quietly removed her from the Politburo in January at a Workers’ Party Congress in which he used most of his remarks to condemn the Party for failing to meet economic goals. At the same event, the Party “promoted” Kim Jong-un, already the supreme dictator of the country, by granting him the title of “Party General Secretary.” Kim Yo-jong was notably present near her brother during most of the meeting.