The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has directed a string of insults towards South Korea for considering new unilateral sanctions against the North, calling its president and his government “idiots” and “a running wild dog gnawing on a bone given by the US”.
Kim Yo Jong’s diatribe came two days after South Korea’s foreign ministry said it was considering additional sanctions on North Korea over its recent barrage of missile tests.
The ministry said it would also consider taking action against alleged cyber attacks by North Korea – believed to be a key new source of funding for its weapons programme – if the North conducts a major provocation like a nuclear test.
“I wonder what ‘sanctions’ the South Korean group, no more than a running wild dog gnawing on a bone given by the US, impudently will impose on North Korea,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by state media.
“What a spectacle!”
She called South Korea’s conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol and his administration “idiots who continue creating the dangerous situation”.
She added that South Korea “had not been our target” when Moon Jae-in – Mr Yoon’s liberal predecessor who sought reconciliation with North Korea – was in power. The comment could be seen as an attempt to foster anti-Yoon sentiment in South Korea.
Ms Kim said: “We warn the impudent and stupid once again that the desperate sanctions and pressure of the US and its South Korean stooges against (North Korea) will add fuel to the latter’s hostility and anger and they will serve as a noose for them.”
Her official title is vice department director of the Central Committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party. But South Korea’s spy agency has said she is the North’s second-most powerful person after her brother and handles relations with South Korea and the United States.
Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said that while it is not the first time Ms Kim has used crude invectives toward South Korea, North Korea is expected to further escalate military tensions on the Korean Peninsula given that she is in charge of relations with South Korea and wields some influences on the North’s military.
South Korea quickly shot back at Ms Kim’s insults of Mr Yoon, saying it is “very deplorable for her to denounce our head of state with rough, substandard words and show no basic forms of etiquette”.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said it strongly condemns what it called “her impure attempt to incite anti-government struggles and shake our system” in South Korea.
Last month, South Korea imposed its own sanctions on 15 North Korean individuals and 16 organisations suspected of involvement in illicit activities to finance North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes.
They were Seoul’s first unilateral sanctions on North Korea in five years, but experts say they were largely symbolic because the two Koreas have few financial dealings between them.
Observers say Seoul’s push to coordinate with the United States and others to crack down on North Korea’s alleged illicit cyber activities could anger North Korea and damage its financing of its weapons programmes.
Earlier this year, a panel of UN experts said in a report that North Korea was stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from financial institutions and cryptocurrency firms and exchanges.
North Korea has been under 11 rounds of United Nations sanctions imposed over its nuclear and missile tests since 2006.