North Korea's Kim Yo Jong threatens South Korea with unspecified military action

Kim Yo Jong.
(Image credit: JORGE SILVA/AFP via Getty Images)

Kim Yo Jong, North Korea's first vice department director of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee and the sister and close confidant of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, on Saturday instructed the country's military leaders to carry out the next step of retaliation against South Korea, whatever and whenever that may be.

"If I drop a hint of our next plan the (South Korean) authorities are anxious about, the right to taking the next action against the enemy will be entrusted to the General Staff of our army," she said in a statement. "Our army, too, will determine something for cooling down our people’s resentment and surely carry out it, I believe."

Bilateral relations between South and North Korea have worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the shuttering of the inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong. In recent months, Pyongyang has pretty much suspended any cooperation with Seoul, and is also frustrated over the lack of progress made in nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration. The Associated Press notes the North is also upset about defectors, whom Kim referred to as "human scum" and "mongrel dogs," sending leaflets detailing Pyongyang's human rights abuses from the South across the border via balloons.

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Other experts, however, believe the forceful rhetoric is an attempt to rally the North Korean public during a time of economic struggle exacerbated by the coronavirus.

It's unclear what type of military action North Korea would theoretically take against its neighbor, though AP reports weapons tests are "an easy guess." Read more at The Associated Press.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.