North Korea says Biden’s policy is ‘hostile’, vows response

Spokesman says Washington insulted leadership by criticising human rights situation

This picture taken on April 29th, 2021 and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the 10th Congress of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League in Pyongyang. Photograph: AFP Photo/ KCNA via KNS

This picture taken on April 29th, 2021 and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the 10th Congress of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League in Pyongyang. Photograph: AFP Photo/ KCNA via KNS

 

North Korea 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.

The statements, carried on state news agency KCNA, come after the White House on Friday said US officials had completed a months-long review of North Korean policy, and underscore the challenges US president Joe Biden faces as he seeks to distance his approach from the failures of his predecessors.

In one statement, a foreign ministry spokesman accused Washington of insulting the dignity of the country’s supreme leadership by criticizing North Korea’s human rights situation.

The human rights 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, the unnamed spokesman said.

In a separate statement, Kwon Jong-gun, director general of the department of US affairs of the foreign ministry, cited Mr Biden’s first policy speech to Congress on Wednesday, where the new president said nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran posed threats that would be addressed through “diplomacy and stern deterrence.”

Mr Kwon said it is illogical and an encroachment upon North Korea’s right to self-defence for the United States to call its defensive deterrence a threat. “His statement clearly reflects his intent to keep enforcing the hostile policy toward the DPRK as it had been done by the US for over half a century,” he said, using the initials for North Korea’s official name.

Nuclear threats

Mr Kwon said US talk of diplomacy is aimed at covering up its hostile acts, and its deterrence is just a means for posing nuclear threats to North Korea.

Now that Mr Biden’s policy has become clear, North Korea “will be compelled to press for corresponding measures, and with time the US will find itself in a very grave situation,” he concluded.

Talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear weapons program have been stalled since a series of summits between Mr Biden’s predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un failed to result in a deal.

The Biden policy attempts to strike a middle ground between Mr Trump’s efforts, as well as those of Democrat Barack Obama, who refused serious diplomatic engagement with North Korea absent any steps by Pyongyang to reduce tensions.

The White House and state department did not immediately comment on the latest North Korean statements.

In a third statement on Sunday, Kim Yo-jong, a senior official in the government and sister of leader Kim Jong-un, sharply 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.

“We regard the manoeuvres committed by the human wastes in the south as a serious provocation against our state and will look into corresponding action,” Ms Kim said.

Last year, North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea, after Ms Kim led a campaign of criticism over the leaflet launches.

On May 21st Biden is due to have his first meeting with South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who has pushed for more engagement with North Korea.

Mr Moon’s efforts were frustrated by the failure of denuclearisation talks under Mr Trump, which left sanctions in place that block most economic engagement with the North.

Mr Biden’s scepticism toward meeting personally with Mr Kim, and his administration’s renewed focus on spotlighting North Korean human rights abuses present new hurdles for Mr Moon as he seeks to make progress with Pyongyang in the last year of his presidency. – Reuters