‘Human scum’, ‘mongrels’: Kim’s sister explodes
South Korea will crack down on anti-North Korea activists after Kim Jong-un's sister threatened to end a military agreement between the two nations as she slammed defectors from the rogue nation as "human scum" and "mongrel dogs".
South Korea said it planned to push new laws to ban activists from flying anti-Pyongyang leaflets over the border after Kim Yo Jong threatened to end a military pact reached in 2018 to reduce tensions if Seoul fails to prevent the protests.
The South's desperate attempt to keep alive a faltering diplomacy will almost certainly trigger debates over freedom of speech in one of Asia's most vibrant democracies.
Sending balloons across the border has been a common activist tactic for years, but North Korea considers it an attack on its government. Defectors and other activists in recent weeks have used balloons to fly leaflets criticising the North's authoritarian leader Kim Jong-un over his nuclear ambitions and dismal human rights record.
While Seoul has sometimes sent police officers to block such activities during sensitive times, it had resisted the North's calls to fully ban them, saying the activists were exercising their freedoms.
As well as threatening to end the military agreement between the two nations, Kim Yo Jong
said the North could permanently shut a liaison office and an inter-Korean factory park that have been major symbols of reconciliation.
In her statement released through state media, Kim Yo Jong called the defectors involved in the balloon launches "human scum" and "mongrel dogs" who betrayed their homeland and said it was "time to bring their owners to account," referring to the government in Seoul.
Yoh Sang-key, spokesman of South Korea's Unification Ministry, said the balloon campaigns were threatening the safety of residents living in the border area and that his government will push for legal changes to "fundamentally resolve tension-creating activities." When asked whether the ministry would specifically express regret over the North's threat to abandon inter-Korean agreements, Yoh said: "we will substitute our evaluation (of the North Korean) statement with the announcement of the government position (on the issue)."
An official from Seoul's presidential office, who asked not to be named during a background briefing, said the balloon launches do "all harm, no good" and that the government will "sternly respond" to activities threatening security. In 2014, soldiers exchanged fire after South Korean activists released propaganda balloons across the Demilitarised Zone, but no casualties were reported.
Kim Yo Jong took a higher profile in North Korean affairs as part of her brother's diplomatic efforts in 2018 and has been issuing her first public statements as that diplomacy has slowed in recent months. State media has carried her comments ridiculing Seoul for protesting a North Korean military drill but praising President Donald Trump for offering to help the North with anti-virus efforts.
"(South Korean) authorities will be forced to pay a dear price if they let this situation go on while making sort of excuses," she said in advocating South Korea outlaw the balloon protests.
"If they fail to take corresponding steps for the senseless act against the fellow countrymen, they had better get themselves ready for possibility of the complete withdrawal of the already desolate Kaesong Industrial Park following the stop to tour of (Diamond Mountain), or shutdown of the (North-South) joint liaison office whose existence only adds to trouble, or the scrapping of the (North-South) agreement in military field which is hardly of any value."
In a separate statement, the international affairs department of the North's ruling Workers' Party accused U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of spewing "rubbish" over his critical comments toward Beijing, which is Pyongyang's biggest ally.
'SOMETHING IS WRONG IF KIM'S SISTER IS ON TV': RODMAN
The verbal attack from Kim Yo Jong follows weeks of speculation about the whereabouts and health of her brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-un finally resurfaced on May 1 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony after disappearing for 20 days, sparking rumours that he had died or was gravely hill.
State media released a number of photos showing the Hermit Kingdom's leader at the opening of the fertiliser plant, but their authenticity came under question.
A number of North Korean observers said the pictures could well have been of one of his numerous lookalike body double, and spies in the US said they could not verify if the photos were real.
White House security adviser Robert O'Brien admitted that American spies "can't say one way or the other" whether the recent "open source" pictures of the despot were real.
He added: "We call it the hermit kingdom. It's very difficult to get information out of North Korea."
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, who formed a close relationship with Kim during a visit to the reclusive communist country in 2013, last month said he had been in touch with North Korea since rumours spread of the leader's ill health.
He was confident that Kim Jong-un was well, and added spectators would be able to tell if something was wrong with the North Korean leader if his sister began to take a more prominent role in public life.
"I do have communications with North Korea, but I can say this, though: If you see his sister on TV, running the country, now you know something is wrong, that's all I'm going give you," Rodman, 58, told Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan, according to the New York Post.
Rodman has praised Kim's sister, who is said to be next in line to the leadership of the rogue nation.
"His sister was a sweetheart," Rodman told The Post.
"She was very kind to me when [I was a] guest."
Originally published as 'Human scum', 'mongrels': Kim's sister explodes