Kim Jong Un
North Korea is again caught in the crosshairs of a political to-do.
It has lashed out at the United States and its allies in South Korea on Sunday in a series of statements saying recent comments from Washington are proof of a hostile policy that requires a corresponding response from Pyongyang.
Biden made a speech to Congress on Wednesday in which the president said nuclear programmes in North Korea and Iran pose threats that would be addressed through “diplomacy and stern deterrence.”
The White House on Friday said US officials had completed a months-long review of North Korean policy.
The faceoff underscores the challenges US President Joe Biden faces as he seeks to distinguish his approach from the failures of his predecessors.
Biden does not seem to have taken a liking for Kim. North Korean state media once slammed the former US Vice President for criticising leader Kim Jong Un, calling him “bereft of elementary quality as a human being”.
In a report, Biden said at a campaign launch in Philadelphia: “Are we a nation that embraces dictators and tyrants like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and Kim Jong Un?”
State media promptly shot back: “What he uttered is just sophism of an imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being, let alone a politician,” it said.
Washington has been accused of insulting the dignity of the country’s supreme leadership by criticising North Korea’s human rights situation. This criticism is a provocation that shows the United States is “girding itself up for an all-out showdown” with North Korea, and will be answered accordingly.
North Korea has not taken too kindly to Biden’s speech to Congress, saying it was illogical and an encroachment upon its right to self-defence for the United States to call its defensive deterrence a threat.
Critics have slammed US talk of diplomacy, saying it is aimed at covering up its hostile acts, and its deterrence is a means for posing nuclear threats to North Korea. Now that Biden’s policy has become clear, North Korea “will be compelled to press for corresponding measures,” and with time the US could find itself in a very grave situation.
Talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear weapons programme have been stalled since a series of summits between Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump and the North Korean leader failed to yield a deal.
Biden’s policy attempts to strike a middle ground between Trump’s efforts and those of former President Barack Obama, who refused serious diplomatic engagement with North Korea without any steps by Pyongyang to reduce tension.
The US goal remains the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
Kim Jong Un does not seem to give up nuclear weapons nor reform North Korea’s political system, and it is hard to see how Washington could embrace a nuclear-armed North Korea that abuses human rights.
Kim Yo Jong, a senior official in the government and sister of leader Kim Jong Un, criticised South Korea for failing to stop defector activists from launching anti-North Korea leaflets.
An activist group in South Korea said on Friday it had released balloons into North Korea carrying dollar bills and leaflets denouncing the government in Pyongyang, defying a recently imposed law banning such releases after complaints by the North.
Biden is due on May 21 to have his first meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has pushed for more engagement with North Korea.
Pyongyang’s rhetoric is a reminder that the problem appears to be bigger than terminology or tactics. Yes, it is not known if it will put its money where its mouth is.