False expectations for dialogue could plunge US into “greater disappointment,” Kim Yo-jong says

Posted on : 2021-06-23 16:53 KST Modified on : 2021-06-23 16:53 KST
Kim Yo-jong’s statement can be seen as meaning that the North Koreans want the US to make a more concrete and elaborate proposal
Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is pictured attending the 3rd Plenary Session of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is pictured attending the 3rd Plenary Session of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on Thursday. (Yonhap News)

Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said Tuesday that the Americans’ false expectations could “plunge them into greater disappointment,” but her remarks could be taken as signaling the beginning of give-and-take between the two sides.

Kim made the comment in a statement published in the Korean Central News Agency. The statement credited her as vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

“I heard the news that the US [n]ational [s]ecurity [a]dvisor had mentioned that he regards the position towards the US [adopted by the WPK Central Committee in the plenary session] as an ‘interesting signal,’” Kim said.

“A Korean proverb says that ‘In a dream, what counts most is to read it, not to have it.’ It seems that the US may interpret the situation in such a way as to seek a comfort for itself.”

Kim Yo-jong’s statement was North Korea’s first official response to an interview with White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan on ABC on Sunday.

“[Kim Jong-un’s] comments this week we regard as an interesting signal. And we will wait to see whether they are followed up with any kind of more direct communication to us,” Sullivan said.

Kim Yo-jong’s statement was extremely short, consisting of just 100 words in four sentences. Strikingly, her statement didn’t contain any full-on criticism of the US. That was also true of Kim Jong-un’s presentation of North Korea’s planned response to international affairs in the WPK Central Committee’s plenary meeting several days earlier.

Neither did Kim Yo-jong explicitly reject dialogue or negotiations with the US. In short, her statement only included her main point, omitting the attacks and insults that are typical of North Korean propaganda. Even her point was couched in abstract language that’s fairly open to interpretation.

That’s proof of how serious Pyongyang is, and how complicated its calculations are.

Kim was trying to send the message that the US should take more steps rather than waiting for Pyongyang to move.

The US tried to put the ball in North Korea’s court with Sullivan’s wait-and-see comments in his ABC interview and with similar remarks by Sung Kim, the US State Department’s special representative for North Korea, on Monday and Tuesday in Seoul. Sung Kim said that the US hopes “the DPRK will respond positively for our outreach and our offer to meet anywhere, anytime without preconditions” and that it’s North Korea’s turn to move.

But now North Korea has kicked the ball back to the US.

Kim Yo-jong’s statement can be seen as meaning that the North Koreans want the US to make a more concrete and elaborate proposal instead of waiting for the North Korean to come to the negotiating table in the present situation.

Kim’s statement was published so soon after Sullivan’s remarks while Sung Kim was still in Seoul, indicating that the North Koreans are attentively watching American actions.

That’s reminiscent of how North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, who is responsible for North Korea’s negotiations with the US, released a statement that staked out the North’s first public stance on the Biden administration when the US secretary of state and secretary of defense visited South Korea on March 18.

In light of these circumstances, Kim’s statement, despite its apparent cynicism, can be seen as signaling the beginning of a full-fledged tug-of-war between North Korea and the US about the timing, method, and agenda of dialogue.

By Lee Je-hun, senior staff writer

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories