About the Authors
Dagyum Ji was a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korean first vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui in comments on Tuesday slammed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for what she described as his “stupid and dangerous” suggestion last week that the U.S. would “change paths” should diplomacy with the DPRK not succeed.
The comments, made in response to a question from a reporter from the country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), saw Choe warn the U.S. against suggesting it would seek to “break down our system by using military methods.”
Speaking to CBS last Wednesday, Secretary of State Pompeo said he believed that the path to North Korea’s denuclearization would be “bumpy” and that the U.S. would consider alternative solutions should “good faith negotiations” and “real conversations” break down.
Vice minister Choe today condemned those comments, stressing that the DPRK would only be open to relinquishing its nuclear weapons should the U.S. express a more flexible attitude.
“Our will to achieve denuclearization remains unchanged and we will denuclearize in due time, but it can be possible only under the condition that the U.S. changes its current way of calculation and re-establish its stance,” she said.
“This is a very stupid and dangerous idea of breaking down our system by using military methods as [the U.S.] cannot break us down with the maximum pressure and economic blockade,” she continued. “The ‘change of path’ mentioned by the U.S … is not a privilege that the U.S. has but is our choice.”
Choe’s remarks follow a slew of condemnations by DPRK officials on how some in the Trump administration have framed prospects for a third North Korea-U.S. summit.
Last week saw Choe slam National Security Advisor John Bolton for remarks in which he said the DPRK would need to make a “real indication” of willingness to denuclearize before a third summit takes place and that the U.S. expected a “Big Deal” to emerge from that meeting.
“As it was before, we have never expected that adviser Bolton would ever make a reasonable remark,” Choe reportedly said, adding “his word has no charm in it and he looks dim-sighted to me.”
Just days before, director general of the DPRK foreign ministry’s Department of American Affairs Kwon Jong Gun urged President Trump to remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as his top nuclear negotiator.
Accusing Pompeo of “self-indulgence” and “reckless remarks,” Kwon warned that Pyongyang would be reluctant to engage in dialogue with the U.S. should they be led by the Secretary of State.
Choe on Tuesday cited DPRK leader Kim Jong Un’s remarks during a “policy speech” earlier in the month that he would be open to a third summit with Trump, but only if it resulted in a “fair” deal beneficial to the two countries.
That speech also saw Kim urge the U.S. to make a “resolute decision” by the end of the year on whether it wants diplomacy with the DPRK to continue.
“We know the path that we will move toward, but we are hesitating to make a choice as we set the deadline for the U.S.,” Choe said Tuesday, warning the U.S. of “consequences” should it decide against continuing negotiations.
Edited by Colin Zwirko
Featured image: U.S. Department of State
North Korean first vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui in comments on Tuesday slammed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for what she described as his "stupid and dangerous" suggestion last week that the U.S. would "change paths" should diplomacy with the DPRK not succeed.
The comments, made in response to a question from a reporter from the country's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), saw Choe warn the U.S. against suggesting it would seek to "break down our system by using military methods."