U.S. Secretary of State criticizes North Korea’s rights abuses . . .
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin are currently on a trip to Japan and South Korea – the first overseas visit undertaken by top officials from the Biden administration. The pair has already made headlines by strongly critiquing China, stating that its actions are repressive and aggressive. Yesterday in Seoul, during talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, Blinken continued to speak out against China and also addressed North Korea. Blinken stated that “(t)he authoritarian regime in North Korea continues to commit systemic and widespread abuses against its own people.” After the meeting, the State Department said that the United States and South Korea would work together to resolve North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues.
North Korea warns U.S. against “causing a stink” . . .
North Korea’s relations with the United States have been at a stalemate since Trump left the White House. Kim Jong Un had three meetings with then-President Trump, but talks ended when North Korea made clear that it would not give up its nuclear weapons. Earlier this week, the White House told reporters that the Biden administration had not heard from North Korea, despite having used “a number of channels” to reach out. However, this week North Korea released a statement aimed at the U.S. through its state news agency after the U.S. and South Korea had conducted joint military drills. Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jung, stated that “if it [the U.S.] wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”
Implications for the U.S.-North Korea-South Korea relationship . . .
North Korea’s statement also has implications for the inter-Korea relationship, which has recently been under significant strain. Kim Yo Jung said that South Korea should not resort to “shrunken war games” – referencing the U.S.–South Korea military drills – and that North Korea would consider leaving the inter-Korean military agreement. Overall, between North Korea’s recent statement and Blinken’s subsequent critique of the regime, tensions are high between the two countries. The Biden administration’s North Korea policy is still “under review,” but its release is tentatively expected in April. While Biden has been relatively silent on the policy’s details, he has stressed the importance of denuclearization in North Korea.