The statement, in the name of Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, said the U.S. had “tried to contact us since mid-February through several routes, including New York”—a reference to the North’s UN mission, often the easiest channel through which to get in touch.
The Americans, she said, had “requested to contact us by sending emails and telephone messages”—“even the evening before the joint military drill” with the South Koreans “imploring us to respond to its request through a third country.”
It was all for naught. Choe’s unequivocal response, carried in English by Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency, was dripping with scorn eerily similar to that of Kim Yo Jong, younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, mocking South Korea’s acquiescence to annual exercises. Between them, their statements appeared as a calculated one-two punch—first on Tuesday by Yo Jong mostly targeted at South Korea, then by Choe, the next highest woman in the North Korean hierarchy, at the U.S.