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Pyongyang pillories Biden for comments

Kim’s regime may prefer to see Trump in office than Obama’s VP

May 23,2019
North Korean state media issued a scathing criticism of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, slamming him for being a “snob bereft of elementary quality as a human being” in response to Biden’s calling North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “tyrant.”

A leading candidate to become the Democratic Party challenger to U.S. President Donald Trump in next year’s presidential elections, Biden entered the crosshairs of the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) due a comment he made at a campaign rally in Philadelphia on Saturday.

According to Newsweek, Biden was making a jab at Trump’s openly cozy relationship with Russia and North Korea when he said, “Are we a nation that embraces dictators and tyrants like [Russian President Vladimir Putin] and Kim Jong-un?”

The KCNA had no shortage of aggressive language toward Biden, calling his words “sophism of an imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being, let alone a politician.”

It then listed a series of allegations surrounding the candidate, like his “vulgar acts and words about women” and an incident where he fell asleep during a speech by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2011.

“It is by no means accidental that there is nonstop comment over [Biden’s] bid for candidacy that he is not worth pinning hope on, backed by the jeer that he is a fool of low IQ,” the editorial read.

“Such a guy had the temerity to insult the supreme leadership of the DPRK, an intolerable and serious politically-motivated provocation against the DPRK,” using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The piece, published both in the Korean- and English-language versions of the KCNA, proclaimed that the North would “never pardon anyone who dare provoke the supreme leadership of the DPRK but will certainly make them pay for it.”

While North Korea has weighed in on domestic politics and elections in the United States and South Korea before, its recent comments on Biden stand in stark contrast to the regime’s relatively propitious approach to President Trump, who, on multiple earlier occasions, touted his personal chemistry with Kim in spite of the troubles in their denuclearization negotiations.

Yet Trump was subject to Pyongyang’s vitriol when its Foreign Ministry labeled him an “old lunatic” after Trump slammed the country for its nuclear tests in 2017. Trump responded on Twitter by questioning whether Kim would “insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’”

Much of the tension between the North and the United States has lifted since Trump threatened “fire and fury” against the regime. Despite the collapse of Trump’s summit with Kim in Vietnam in February, the improved atmosphere nonetheless affirms the U.S. president’s willingness to pursue a diplomatic approach to the regime.

For this reason, the North - in spite of its growing frustration with the administration’s unwillingness to bend on sanctions - may see Trump as a preferable option to Biden, whose policies toward the regime may be tougher than Obama’s so-called “strategic patience” approach.

While under Obama the United States opted for non-engagement, evidence suggests Biden may take a much more hard-line stance.

According to a 36-second clip from 2000 uncovered by progressive activists in the United States earlier this month, then-Senator Biden brought up the option of a military invasion of North Korea to take out its nuclear capabilities.

“If we [the United States] have evidence that they [North Korea] are building a missile system, an offensive system, with a nuclear capacity and they won’t negotiate with us, I would support a unilateral strike to take them out,” Biden said in a speech. “That to me is a hell of a lot less risky way to deal with my grandchildren’s future than to engage in an overall arms race.”

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]


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