SEOUL, Mar 24, 2020, Hankyoreh. US President Donald Trump sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un explaining his vision for achieving progress in North Korea-US relations and indicating his intent to cooperate on preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, Workers’ Party of Korea First Deputy Department Director Kim Yo-jong revealed in a Mar. 22 statement, Hankyoreh reported.
Kim Yo-jong shared the news in a statement titled “Trump’s message shows rapport between the DPRK, US leaders,” reporting that her brother Kim Jong-un had also expressed gratitude for the letter.
On Mar. 4, Kim Jong-un sent a personal letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to offer a message of consolation over the ill effects of the coronavirus outbreak. The following day, Moon sent a reply expressing his thanks. The exchanges signal that “letter diplomacy” among the South and North Korean and US leaders is making a comeback as the virus rages. The letters are being seen as an attempt to maintain trust among the leaders and manage the current vacuum in denuclearization talks.
But Kim Yo-jong also stressed that expectations for relations between Pyongyang and Washington should not be based on the personal closeness between their leaders.
“If impartiality and balance are not provided and unilateral and greedy intention is not taken away, the bilateral relations will continue to aggravate,” she warned.
“I think that the bilateral relations and dialogue for them would be thinkable only when the equilibrium is kept dynamically and morally and justice ensured between the two countries,” she added.
It was the second statement to date to be personally credited to Kim Yo-jong. On Mar. 3, she issued a statement titled “Appalled at the Blue House’s Foolish Way of Thinking,” she harshly criticized the Blue House’s expression of profound concern over a firepower strike drill conducted the previous day. Observers speculated that her political stature may have risen enough for her to begin issuing personal statements directed at the Blue House and White House.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported the previous day that Kim Jong-un had observed the test launch of a tactical guided weapon “aimed at reconfirming [. . .] the tactical characters and power of a new weapon system to be delivered to KPA units,” with an accompanying photograph published. Based on the image shared by North Korea, the pattern of the weapon’s launch from a transporter erector launcher (TEL), the number of launch tubes, and projectile were reminiscent of the North Korean model of the US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) launched on Aug. 10 and 16 of last year. The North Korean ATACMS is launched from a TEL equipped with two launch tubes and can be rapidly moved after launching two rounds in succession. The interval between launches on Mar. 21 was five minutes, which was significantly reduced from the intervals of 16 and 15 minutes respectively observed on Aug. 10 and 16.
By Yoo Kang-moon, senior staff writer