This weekend we reported that tensions were escalating on the Korean peninsula, two years after the conclusion of the historic peace summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The relationship between North and South Korea is now even more frayed in the wake of threats made by the North Korean dictator’s influential, younger sister.

Kim Yo Jong on Saturday described South Korea as “the enemy” and warned the country would soon see the collapse of a “useless” inter-Korean liaison office at the border.

She said North Korea’s military would determine how to retaliate for the activists’ propaganda leaflet campaign targeting North Koreans.

“By exercising my power authorized by the supreme leader, our party and the state, I gave an instruction to the arms of the department in charge of the affairs with enemy to decisively carry out the next action,” she said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

It is important to note that the liaison office, located in the North’s city of Gaeseong, was a key achievement from an inter-Korean summit in 2018, with the office opening five months after the talks. North Korean officials also highlighted plans to expand the nation’s nuclear capabilities.

Her warning was backed up by Kwon Jong-gun, director-general of the North Korean foreign ministry’s American Affairs Department who hinted at the country expanding its nuclear capabilities.

“I want to make it clear that we will continue to build up our force in order to overpower the persistent threats from the United States, and such efforts of ours are in fact continuing at this point of time,” he told the KCNA, hours ahead of the Kim’s statement.

Park Won-gon, a professor of international politics at Handong Global University, said the North will take practical action to shut down the joint office.

“The liaison office is virtually shut down now as the communication line is cut off and her remarks mean that her country will never resume its operation,” he said.

Kim Yo Jong is focusing her ire on the defectors from North Korea, who had helped with the leaflet campaign, calling them “human scum” and “mongrel dogs.”

In response to North Korea’s anger over the leaflets, South Korea’s government promised to press charges against defector groups that have been carrying out border protests. South Korea also said it would push new laws to ban activists from flying the leaflets across the border, though some worry that President Moon Jae-in is more concerned about a dream of reunification than the safety of his country.

Kim Yo Jong now serves as the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee first vice department director, an elevated position that grants her greater power over the party and, by extension, the country. When her brother Kim Jong Un disappeared from the public eye in April, rumors circulated that Kim Yo Jong would potentially replace him as leader of the country.

 

 
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