11 July 2024

SEOUL — North Korea called South Korea’s president “a parrot raised by America” Tuesday, resuming its trademark derisive rhetoric against its rivals amid renewed animosities on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued the latest verbal salvo after South Korean President Moon Jae-in criticized the North’s missile launches last week. She said Moon’s “illogical and brazen-faced” comments echoed the U.S. stance.

“We can hardly repress astonishment at his shamelessness,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by the North’s state media. “He cannot feel sorry for being ‘praised’ as a parrot raised by America.”

Seoul’s Unification Ministry expressed “strong regret” over her statement, saying that the two Koreas must observe “the rules of minimum etiquette in any circumstance.”

Kim Yo Jong once enjoyed an image of “a peace messenger” in South Korea after she visited Seoul and conveyed Moon her brother’s invitation to visit Pyongyang in early 2018. But since ties turned strained again later, she’s taken the lead in anti-Seoul rhetoric.

The United States, South Korea and others condemned North Korea over its firings of two ballistic missile launches into the sea, the first such weapons tests in a year. North Korea has argued it has sovereign rights to perform such weapons tests to cope with U.S. military threats. But U.N. Security Council resolutions ban ballistic missile and nuclear tests by North Korea which they say pose a threat to international peace.

On Saturday, Ri Pyong Chol, a top deputy to Kim Jong Un, called President Joe Biden’s criticism of the North’s missile tests a provocation and encroachment on the North’s right to self-defense. Ri said it was “gangster-like logic” for Washington to criticize the North’s launches while the U.S. freely tested intercontinental ballistic missiles.

North Korea has a history of using colorfully harsh insults against rivals.

Before entering now-stalled nuclear talks with the United States in 2018, Kim Jong Un called then President Donald Trump “the mentally deranged U.S. dotard” after Trump called him a “little rocket man.”

In 2019, North Korea called Biden, then a presidential hopeful, a “rabid dog” and a “fool of low IQ” when it criticized his comments about its leadership.

Some experts say North Korea’s recent missile launches and tough language are meant to increase pressure on the Biden administration as it’s shaping its policy on North Korea. They say North Korea eventually wants the United States to relax sanctions on the North while accepting it as a nuclear weapons state.