Breaking a six-month silence North Korean leader’s sister Kim Yo-jong has slammed South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha over her recent remarks made at a forum last week on Pyeongyang’s antivirus measures.
According to her statement delivered via the state-run Korean Central News Agency today Kim warned Kang will “pay dearly” and warned the already frosty inter-Korean relations could get worse.
Her criticism against Seoul comes after she issued a harshly worded statement in June threatening to blow up the inter-Korean joint liaison office in anger over the sending of anti-Pyeongyang leaflets by defectors in the South.
This may imply that Pyeongyang is sensitive when it comes to its COVID-19 situation or that it’s trying to send a message to Washington as U.S. point man on North Korean affairs, Stephen Biegun is in Seoul this week.
For more on this, we have Dr. Go Myong-hyun, Senior Fellow at Asan Institute for Policy Studies for our In-depth tonight.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa said it’s odd that the North is unresponsive to inter-Korean cooperation in fighting COVID-19 adding that Pyeongyang’s claim of having no coronavirus cases is hard to believe.
What do you think is the true picture of the outbreak in North Korea, and is there any room for cross-border cooperation? Also, does Kim’s statement reaffirm her role in handling inter-Korean affairs?

North Korea had maintained a high level of alert and tightened its borders early this year.
It had also rejected outside assistance saying it could increase the risk of an outbreak.
Now Seoul’s unification ministry says there’s a need to support the North on providing COVID-19 vaccines in the future what role could COVID-19 play in inter-Korean relations, will it worsen or strengthen them?

The last time Kim Yo-jong criticized Seoul was nearly six months ago and since then Pyeongyang appears to have toned down its criticism.
Even if the North has made certain criticisms, they haven’t been released via any domestic media outlets, such as the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of its ruling party.
What are Pyeongyang’s intentions this time considering U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun’s trip to South Korea is this week?

During his stay in Seoul, Biegun has stressed the need for a balance of “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches on North Korean denuclearization.
How could South Korea and the U.S. find a mixture of these two approaches, and how likely would this be received by the incoming Biden administration?

Amid an exodus of Trump aides leaving the White House as seen in the resignation of White House communications director Alyssa Farah( ) and White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas .
There is speculation that Biegun may be work for the Biden administration as well.
Is that likely, and what would be the benefits of having him continue as Washington’s point man on issues regarding North Korea?

Whoever becomes Biegun’s predecessor the Biden administration is widely speculated to focus on pressuring North Korea on human rights violations which have been overlooked during the Trump and Moon administrations so far compared to in the past.
How would this help or hinder the denuclearization of North Korea?

A senior CIA official cited earlier this month that the North has lost enthusiasm in declaring an official end to the Korean War which the need to do so was strongly argued by the Moon administration as it is regarded as the first step in achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Do you think the Moon administration should change its position in this regard?
Declaring an end entails changes on the Korean peninsula regarding the stationing of U.S. forces in South Korea and the role of the United Nations Command.

The biggest loophole in implementing the UN sanctions on the regime seems to be China.
Recent reports suggest that North Korea has benefited in hundreds and millions of dollars by exporting coal to China this year.
Given that the rivalry between the U.S. and China is likely to intensify in the coming years what’s South Korea’s role in persuading China and, in turn, steering the North to dismantle its nuclear weapons and cease missile development?

Alright. That’s Go Myong-hyun, research fellow at Asan Institute for Policy Studies thank you so much for your insights. We appreciate it.

Reporter : jiyeonkim@arirang.co.kr

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