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05.06.2020 Asia

North Korea's Supreme Sister scolds 'human scum' jeopardising deal with south

By Jan van der Made - RFI
AP - Jorge Silva
LISTEN JUN 5, 2020
AP - Jorge Silva

Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, has called defectors “human scum” and “mongrel dogs” for flying hot air balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda across the border from the South. She has threatened to cancel a military deal with Seoul.

South Korea may ban defectors from flying anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North, officials said on Thursday, hours after leader Kim Jong-un's sister threatened to scrap a military agreement with Seoul.

Kim Yo-jong, the influential younger sister and key adviser to the leader, issued the warning at a time when inter-Korean ties are in the deep freeze, despite three summits in 2018 between her brother and southern president Moon Jae-in, who has consistently been favorable to closer engagement with Pyongyang.

But North Korean defectors and other activists have long flown balloons across the border carrying leaflets that criticise Kim over human rights abuses and his nuclear ambitions.

The Supreme Sister does not approve.
“On 31 May I heard a report that so-called 'defectors from the North' scattered hundreds of thousands of anti-Democratic People's Republic of Korea leaflets into the areas on our side of the frontline areas,” she writes in a statement published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“What matters is that those human scum hardly worth their value as human beings had the temerity of faulting our supreme leadership and citing 'nuclear issue',” she fumes, referring to initiatives by her brother and South Korea's leader to ease tensions on the peninsula.

“Riff-raff” and “mongrel dogs”
“I wonder if the world knows what kind of riff-raff those foolish 'defectors from the north' are,” she asks.

“It is the height of irony. Those fools who are almost illiterate wanted to talk about the 'nuclear issue' though they know no concept about it. This is like 'a shop-boy near a temple chanting a sutra untaught',” she says, referring to attempts by US President Donald Trump, Seoul and Kim Jong-un to scale down Pyongyang's nuclear program in exchange for the US removing its nuclear arsenal from the region. 

Apart from being “human scum little short of wild animals who betrayed their own homeland” she calls the defectors “mongrel dogs as they bark in where they should not”.

And this has to come to an end, she says, asking the “south Korean authorities” if they are “ready to take the consequences” of the damage done by these “rubbish-like mongrel dogs” who “took no scruple to slander us”.

There will be serious consequences if Seoul doesn't comply, she threatens.

Among those consequences: a possible cancellation of the 2000 North-South Joint declaration, which was signed by Kim Jong-un's father Kim Jong-il and then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, while the 2018 Panmunjon Declaration for Peace and Prosperity on the Korean Peninsula jointly signed by Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in may be in danger too. 

Sister Kim angrily points out that this text specifically refers to ceasing “all hostile acts against each other in every domain, including … distribution of leaflets, in the areas along the Military Demarcation Line.”

Complete withdrawal
Apart from cancelling the agreements, she also threatens the complete withdrawal of North Korea from the cross-border cooperation project at the Kaesong Industrial Park, and the closure of the north-south joint liaison office.

The effect was immediate: just hours after the KCNA published Kim's statement, Seoul's unification ministry said the government was considering legislation to ban leaflet campaigns on the grounds they caused tension at the border.

"Any act that could pose a threat to the life and property of the residents in the border area should be stopped," said ministry spokesman Yoh Sang-key.

The leaflet campaigns have been a thorny issue between the two Koreas, but enacting such a law could spark an outcry in the South over the right to freedom of expression.

An official at the South Korean presidential office said the leaflets did "more harm than good," adding the government would "respond firmly" to anything that damages national security. Yonhap news agency reported that mayors of townsin the border area had also requested the ministry to take steps and prevent defectors from flying leaflets into the North.

And Kim himself?
Meanwhile Supreme Leader Kim Jung-un has disappeared for the third time in two months. When he was not shown in public after inspecting an assault plane group in the west of the country on 12 April, speculation had it that he had died of heart problems in late April, but on 2 May, KCNA published a slideshow of Kim opening a fertilizer factory, looking puffy, but not unhealthy.

He then disappeared again without trace for another three weeks, before being photographed chairing a session of the Military Commission on 24 May, the last time he was seen in public. This week's sudden appearance of his sister adds fuel to speculation that she has been increasingly taking a leadership role in the country.

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