North Korea hurled insults at the South Korean government Thursday, threatening to hold the peace process hostage indefinitely until its various demands are met.
“Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the north-south high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of South Korea,” Ri Son Gwon, chairman of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, said in a statement carried by North Korea’s state-run media. “The present South Korean authorities have been clearly proven to be an ignorant and incompetent group devoid of the elementary sense of the present situation.”
In addition to criticizing the latest iteration of the Max Thunder drills, a two-week exercise involving numerous U.S. and South Korean air assets, Ri also slammed Seoul for allowing “human scum” to speak at the National Assembly, an apparent reference to Thae Yong Ho, a high-ranking North Korean defector who is clearly despised by Pyongyang.
Thae, who has been described as “human scum” by the regime, spoke at the National Assembly earlier this week, warning about the dangers of dealing with the Kim regime. In South Korea, there are people who are now petitioning the government to expel Thae and other defectors critical of the regime on the grounds that they are putting permanent peace on the peninsula in danger. (RELATED: Don’t Be Fooled By Kim Jong Un’s Hugs And Handshakes Campaign, Warns Senior North Korean Defector)
Other North Korean media reports called attention to sanctions, the U.S. military alliance with South Korea and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system, potentially suggesting that North Korea might have additional demands as time goes on.
Ri’s comments Thursday follow a decision by Pyongyang to cancel talks with Seoul. North Korea also cast doubt over the future of President Donald Trump’s June summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. The North criticized Trump for his claims that sanctions and pressure brought Kim to the negotiating table, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s promises of economic salvation, and White House national security adviser John Bolton’s suggestion that the U.S. has the “Libya model” in mind for North Korean denuclearization.
North Korea seems irritated that the U.S. is approaching North Korea as a weak, defeated state since it clearly considers itself a powerful nuclear state. The regime is also frustrated by the apparent continuation of American hostile policies, as well as South Korea’s complicit role in the continuation of those policies.
It is unclear if the current impasse is a temporary obstacle or a permanent roadblock in the peace process. The current spat comes less than one month after the landmark inter-Korean summit where Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the first time.
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