Kim's sister slams Seoul over questioning zero-virus claim

The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has lambasted South Korea’s foreign minister for questioning the North’s claim to be coronavirus free, warning of potential consequences for the comments

Via AP news wire
Wednesday 09 December 2020 01:25

The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un lambasted South Korea's foreign minister for questioning the North’s claim to be coronavirus free, warning Wednesday of potential consequences for the comments.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said over the weekend that it’s hard to believe North Korea’s claim that there has been no virus outbreak on its soil. She added that the North has been unresponsive to South Korea’s offer for cooperation to jointly tackle the pandemic.

The North Korean leader's sister, Kim Yo Jong, responded in a statement carried by state media.

“It can be seen from the reckless remarks made by her without any consideration of the consequences that she is too eager to further chill the frozen relations between North and South Korea,” she said.

“Her real intention is very clear. We will never forget her words and she might have to pay dearly for it,” Kim said.

The remarks show how sensitive North Korea is to what it considers any outside attempt to tarnish its image as its guards against the pandemic and the economic fallout.

Despite its zero-virus case claim, North Korea’s state media have repeatedly said there is a “maximum emergency” anti-epidemic campaign in which it has closed its international borders, flown out diplomats and isolated residents with suspected symptoms.

The North’s border closure with China, it’s biggest trading partner, is wrecking its already fragile economy. The North has admitted it’s facing “multiple crises” due to the pandemic, a spate of natural disasters last summer and persistent U.S.-led sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.

Experts have said a major disease outbreak in North Korea could cause a humanitarian disaster because of its fragile health care system.

South Korea's foreign minister told a forum in Bahrain on Saturday that the pandemic had "made North Korea more North Korea — that is, more closed, very top-down decision-making process where there is very little debate on their measures in dealing with COVID-19.”

“They still say they do not have any cases, which is hard to believe," Kang said. "So, all signs are the regime is very intensely focused on controlling the disease that they say they do not have.”

Also this week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun is in Seoul for talks on North Korea and other issues.

South Korea’s spy agency recently told lawmakers that Kim Jong Un had ordered diplomats overseas to refrain from any acts that could provoke Washington because it is worried about President-elect Joe Biden’s expected new approach toward North Korea.

Some observers say North Korea could still do something provocative to try to draw Biden’s attention and create the need to restart stalled nuclear talks in which it could win concessions.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in