The new South Korean President, Yoon Suk-Yeol, attempted to extend an olive branch to North Korea this week. After news of increasing levels of famine in the country surfaced, Yoon offered food aid and medical assistance to his neighbors to the north if they would be willing to take some initial steps toward denuclearization. This was in keeping with promises that Yoon had made while campaigning for office. He had stated his intent to try to lower the temperature on the peninsula and build on the progress made by his predecessor during the Trump administration, attempting to warm up relations between the two countries.
Proving how futile such efforts are and will likely continue to be as long as Kim Jong-un’s family remains in power, North Korea immediately rejected the offer in an insulting fashion. But Kim didn’t deliver the message himself. Instead, he once again dispatched his sister, Kim Yo Jong to handle the matter. Rather than politely declining, she called the offer “absurd” and said that the South Korean president should “shut his mouth,” referring to Yoon as “simple” and “childish.” (BBC)
Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s powerful sister, has slammed Seoul’s offer of economic aid in return for denuclearisation steps, calling it the “height of absurdity”.
“No-one barters their destiny for corn cake,” she said in a statement.
South Korea’s president Yoon Suk-yeol had Wednesday reiterated the plan, which he first mentioned in May.
But Ms Kim said on Friday that Mr Yoon should “shut his mouth” and called him “simple and still childish”.
This is yet another example of how despicable Kim’s family is and how brainwashed North Korea’s population must be to continue to support him. Following the government’s disastrous handling of the pandemic, it is currently estimated that at least 10.3 million people in North Korea are currently suffering from malnutrition. That’s out of a population of 25 million, so more than a third of the country is starving. At least one million are believed to have starved to death in just the past two years.
Now, South Korea comes along and offers to ship food and medicine into the country. And they’re not even saying that Kim would have to immediately dismantle and give up all of his weapons and nuclear material. All they’re asking is that he shows a little progress in that direction with some initial reductions and a moratorium on new nuclear tests. For their trouble, Kim’s sister is sent out to hurl insults at them and issue more threats. I assume nothing about the offer showed up on state television in North Korea, otherwise Kim should have a revolt on his hands.
The only other item of interest in this story involves the fact that Kim Yo Jong was once again sent out to handle a public matter involving foreign policy. Verifiable details of anything that’s going on inside Kim’s inner circle are hard to come by, but rumors regarding Kim Jong-un’s health continue to swirl. Analysts have speculated about various reports ranging from the suspicion that he has a very serious disease to the possibility that he’s already died and a body double is acting in his place. (The latter seems unlikely.)
There is no clear line of succession if Kim were to die at this point. It’s long been speculated that his sister might be selected to replace him. But North Korea does not have a culture where women are respected and accepted in leadership roles, so many of the squabbling warlords that Kim has to hold together might rebel if Kim Yo Jong were to be named as the new Dear Leader. Of course, if Kim can’t figure out a way to feed his people soon, the entire matter might be moot.