SEOUL: “Simple” and “childish” was how Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, described South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol last month for his offer of aid in exchange for denuclearisation.
Calling Yoon’s offer the “height of absurdity”, she said in a statement carried by the North’s state news agency KCNA: “To think that the plan to barter ‘economic cooperation’ for our honour, (our) nukes, is the great dream, hope and plan of Yoon, we came to realise that he is really simple and still childish.”
“No one barters its destiny for corn cake,” she added.
This week, the North passed a law making its nuclear status irreversible. Kim Jong Un said he would never surrender the weapons even if the country faced 100 years of sanctions.
As of June, North Korea has tested an unprecedented 31 ballistic missiles this year.
Satellite images showed in March it was reactivating its Punggye-ri nuclear weapons test site. Three months later, the United States warned that North Korea could conduct its seventh nuclear test – and its first since 2017 – at “any time”.
Last month, it fired two cruise missiles towards the Yellow Sea after Seoul and Washington started preliminary joint drills in preparation for their long-suspended live field training exercise Ulchi Freedom Shield.
China and Russia round out the nuclear-armed trio at South Korea’s doorstep.
Such neighbours and the increased threat of war are why artificial intelligence engineer Shin Changho believes his country should have nuclear weapons.
“I feel that if South Korea were to possess nuclear weapons, North Korea’s military and diplomatic direction towards us would definitely change,” Shin told the CNA programme Insight.