After several years of relative calm, North Korea is turning up the heat on President Joe Biden.
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un and a Pyongyang power player in her own right, just issued a veiled threat that also sounded like a comic-book villain’s riddle.
“A word of advice to the new administration of the United States that is struggling to spread the smell of gunpowder on our land from across the ocean,” she said as U.S. forces conducted military exercises with South Korea. “If it wants to sleep in peace for the coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”
The U.S. military was unmoved by the threat and vowed to continue the joint exercises.
“Our force remains ready to ‘fight tonight,’” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week as he spoke of “the importance of maintaining military readiness” with South Korean allies.
North Korea’s new threat was the kind the rogue nation had routinely issued for years, often vowing fire and fury on the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
At one point, the nation even released videos showing simulated attacks on American cities.
Former President Donald Trump ripped dictator Kim Jong Un as “Little Rocket Man,” while North Korea dismissed Trump as a “dotard.”
But that changed after Trump personally negotiated a fragile detente with the dictator.
While Trump didn’t get the big breakthrough he sought in the form of a test ban and treaty, he did get the nation to curtail its belligerence and limit its missile tests, which rattled the region for years.
Now, Pyongyang is setting a new tone for Biden, who had called Kim a “thug” during last year’s presidential campaign over North Korea’s egregious human rights violations.
Once in office, however, the Biden administration reportedly reached out to North Korea… only to be ignored.
North Korean diplomats admit that after years of steady contact with the Trump team, they’ve essential ghosted Biden.
The reason: They’ve got nothing to say to him.
“It will only be a waste of time to sit with the U.S., as it is not ready to feel and accept new change and new times,” said First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, according to a release from the state’s propaganda arm, the Korean Central News Agency.
Choe even warned that the easy relationship Trump seemed to have with Kim would not be extended to Biden.
“We make it clear that we won’t give it such opportunities as in Singapore and Hanoi again,” Choe said, referring to two of the summits held during the Trump administration.
The verbal escalation could lead to more than just news headlines.
It could lead to increased military tensions in Asia, including in South Korea and Japan, which are home to a combined 85,000 American troops.
And, ultimately, it could cost American taxpayers cash as war games resume on the Korean peninsula – exercises Trump had curtailed both to keep Kim calm and to save cash at home.
“We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith,” Trump said at the time.
The exercises are only a tiny fraction of the military budget, at roughly $14 million to $20 million each, but over time can add up to hundreds of millions of dollars.
“It’s very expensive,” Trump said in 2018.
At least one observer predicted that North Korea may come around yet – because the isolated nation is increasingly struggling.
“North Korea needs economic help,” Mark Tokola, vice president of the Korea Economic Institute of America, told Bloomberg. “And they need international acceptance. So there’s reason to talk.”
But diplomats and analysts have made that same prediction for decades… and so far, North Korea hasn’t budged despite war, famine, and – right now – a deadly global pandemic.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.