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North Korea yet to react to Biden victory

US President Donald Trump (right) meets with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un at the start of their US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (AFP-Yonhap)
US President Donald Trump (right) meets with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un at the start of their US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (AFP-Yonhap)


Now that Democrat Joe Biden has won the US presidential election, how the new president-elect and his administration will cope with North Korea is attracting keen attention here.

During his election campaign rallies, Biden called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “dictator” and a “thug,” and criticized his rival President Donald Trump for befriending Kim.

But Biden left the door open for a possible summit, with the condition being that Pyongyang work to make the Korean Peninsula a “nuclear-free zone.”

North Korea also has criticized Biden, who served two terms as vice president to President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, calling him a “low IQ individual” who is “seized by ambition for power.”

The exchange of harsh rhetoric between Kim and Biden contrasts with the personal relationship the North Korean leader developed with Trump. Trump and Kim have met three times and exchanged letters since June 2018 to try to reach a deal on dismantling the North’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief. The meetings ended without substantial results.

According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service last week, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader, and Choe Son-hui, the regime’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, are setting up strategies to prepare for nuclear negotiations with the new US administration.

While Kim has been actively trying to strengthen his relationship with leaders of allies including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin by sending letters and congratulatory messages this year, the regime had not yet reacted to Biden’s victory as of press time.

When Trump was elected in 2016, North Korean media did not mention the winner of the election. Instead, state media outlet the Rodong Sinmun reported that the Obama administration had put a greater burden on the new administration.

“It has burdened the new administration with the difficulty of facing the Juche (self-reliant) nuclear state,” it said, referring to the North, in an editorial published on Nov. 10, 2016, just after Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the US.

“If there is anything the Obama administration has done ... it has put the security of the US mainland in the greatest danger,” the editorial said.

The name of Trump was first mentioned by North Korea 10 days after he was announced to be the winner to criticize then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye for sending a congratulatory message to Trump.

When Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, Pyongyang showed a relatively quick reaction, saying that Obama defeated Republican candidate John McCain.

North Korea appeared to have been relieved by a Democratic candidate taking the top office due to the hawkish approach taken by previous Republican administrations.

But any expectations fizzled as the Obama administration imposed a policy of “strategic patience” while pursuing economic pressure on the regime following Pyongyang’s second nuclear weapons test in May 2009.

“Obama, who seeks a second term, has been making reckless remarks on our republic’s self-defense nuclear deterrence that we have to pay the price for it and that we should make a decision about it,” Rodong Sinmun said on Nov. 4, 2012, just prior to the presidential election.

When George W. Bush was elected in 2000, North Korea’s state-controlled Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported the election result four days after he was declared to be the next US leader. “The Supreme Court confirmed Republican candidate Bush, the governor of Texas, was the winner without clarification of many problematic votes in Florida.”

The Bush administration’s hard-line stance on Pyongyang, branding the regime as part of an “axis of evil” along with Iran and Iraq, led the North to skip its direct reporting on Bush’s success in securing a second term in 2004.



By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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