What did Kim Jon Un, Supreme Leader of North Korea say about Biden?
Jong Un was one of the only world leaders not to congratulate Joe Biden on winning the election. What does the future hold for US-North Korea relations?
From 5 to 12 January 2021, North Korea held its 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the second time such a meeting has been held under Kim Jong Un’s leadership and only the third time since 1980.
At the Congress, Jon Un called the US his country's "biggest enemy," the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, according to Reuters.
What did Kim Jong Un say about Joe Biden?
Speaking at the party congress, North Korea's Supreme Leader laid out a new five-year policy plan, in part addressing relations with the US. “Our foreign political activities should be focused and redirected on subduing the US, our biggest enemy and main obstacle to our innovated development,” Kim said at the meeting.
Adding, in a reference to Biden, "No matter who is in power in the US, the true nature of the US and its fundamental policies towards North Korea never change."
Kim also said the "key to establishing new relations between [North Korea] and the United States is whether the United States withdraws its hostile policy" from North Korea, adding that "the reality is that we can achieve peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula when we constantly build up our national defence and suppress US military threats."
Joe Biden called Kim Jong Un a “thug” during the election campaign. In 2019 North Korea called Biden a “rabid dog” who needed to be “beaten to death with a stick,” and said that he was showing signs of "the final stage of dementia."
“North Korea is declaring the window for cooperation is much, much smaller for the Biden administration,” Yoo Ho-yeol, professor of North Korean studies at Korea University in Seoul told Reuters.
The South Korean Unification Ministry released a statement after Jong Un’s comments became public saying, "The inauguration of the new US administration can be a good opportunity to improve US - North Korea relations, and we expect relations to swiftly resume."
What is Joe Biden’s position on North Korea?
He’s only been in office a matter of days and no official policy has been laid out yet, but Joe Biden vowed in October that he would only meet with Kim if North Korea agreed to scale down its nuclear capacity.
Last month Kurt Campbell, the top diplomat for East Asia under Obama and considered a contender for a top Asia policy position under Biden, said the incoming administration would have to make an early decision on what approach it will take with North Korea and not repeat the delay of the Obama era, according to Reuters.
What’s more, with multiple urgent domestic and environmental crises to contend with, North Korea is unlikely to be the top priority for Biden, who is also going to push to get back into a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that Trump decimated in favour of what he named maximum pressure against Iran.
The Biden administration’s “sequence of policy attention will likely be: get America’s own house in order, strengthen US alliances and align strategies toward China and Russia, and then address Iran and North Korea,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul talking to AP.
Jong Un previously met with Donald Trump on three occasions and they had maintained contact by letters, but the efforts did not result in a denuclearisation deal nor improve relations between the two countries.