In her first known official statement, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday leveled diatribes and insults on South Korea for protesting over her nation’s latest live-fire exercises.
Believed to be in her early 30s, Kim Yo-jong is in charge of propaganda affairs and has frequently appeared at her brother’s major public events, including summits with US President Donald Trump and other regional leaders, but her statement carried by state media, the first of its kind, indicated that her political status has been further elevated.
In the statement, she criticized the South Korean presidential office, or Blue House, for expressing strong concerns over North Korea’s drills and urging it to stop such an act that does not contribute to efforts to reduce military animosities.
“As far as I know, the South side is also fond of joint military exercises and it is preoccupied with all the disgusting acts like purchasing ultra-modern military hardware,” Kim Yo-jong said. “They meant they need to get militarily prepared, but we should be discouraged from military exercises. Such a gangster-like assertion can never be expected from those with a normal way of thinking.”
Describing the Blue House as “a mere child” and “a burnt child dreading fire,” she went on to say: “How come can all its words and acts be so perfectly foolish in detail.”
Kim Yo-jong did not mention by name South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who she met several times.
“The South side’s response is so regretful and disappointing, but it is somewhat fortunate that it was not a direct statement of the president,” she said.
Earlier, state media said that Kim Jong-un supervised a live-fire rocket artillery exercise in an apparent reference to the two short-range ballistic missile launches reported by South Korea’s military a day earlier.
North Korea on Saturday last week said that Kim Jong-un guided an artillery drill aimed at testing the combat readiness of military units.
The back-to-back firing exercises were an apparent show of force by Kim Jong-un, who had earlier vowed to bolster his nuclear deterrent and warned of “shocking action” over now-stalled nuclear negotiations with Trump.
The latest firing drills were his first weapons tests since late November last year.
Kim Yo-jong’s statement was issued in her capacity as a first vice-department director of the Workers Party’s Central Committee. She also serves as an alternate member of North Korea’s Politburo and a member of parliament.
South Korean officials and experts said that she is virtually North Korea’s top propaganda official.
Kim Yo-jong’s statement “suggests that her status and influence have been expanded to such an extent as to express her opinions externally and beyond playing a role of assisting Chairman Kim Jong-un on his public activities,” Cheong Seong-chang said at the Sejong Institute in Seoul.
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