WASHINGTON • The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dismissed the idea of a meeting with US President Donald Trump this year, but did so with a warm tone that included an unusual mention of DVDs showing celebrations of the July 4 holiday in the United States.
Ms Kim Yo Jong conveyed the best wishes of her brother to Mr Trump, but said the time was not right to meet, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported yesterday.
Her comments came as Mr Trump’s point man for relations with Pyongyang, Mr Stephen Biegun, was on the last day of his trip to South Korea and Japan, trying to revive sputtering nuclear negotiations that have made little progress since Mr Kim and Mr Trump first met two years ago.
“Given the differences in opinion between the two countries, it wouldn’t be beneficial or necessary for the two sides to meet unless there is a decisive change in the US stance towards North Korea,” Ms Kim said.
She also said she had sought – and received – permission from her brother to obtain DVDs featuring US Independence Day festivities, KCNA reported.
She said she had watched some of the July 4th “celebratory events” through TV news reports, adding: “I’m trying to personally obtain DVDs on US Independence Day events from now on, and I’ve also gotten approval from the Chairman for that.”
Foreign television programming has made its way to North Korea for years, with defectors saying South Korean romance dramas are among the most sought-after shows.
The content is often smuggled into the reclusive state and distributed on thumb drives to help hide the material. Those caught “viewing, reading or listening to content provided by a media outlet based outside the country” can be sent to political prisons, according to a 2020 report from Reporters Without Borders.
North Korea took a harsher tone towards the US last month when Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon accused the Trump administration of breaking promises it made at the first historic summit two years ago, saying it had turned dreams for peace into “a dark nightmare” and dashed hopes for denuclearisation.
Pyongyang has blasted the Trump administration for not easing up on sanctions choking its paltry economy, lambasting officials like Secretary of State Michael Pompeo for using what the North sees as “gangster-like behaviour”. Still, it has mostly lauded its ties with Mr Trump since the US leader held his first summit with Mr Kim.
Ms Kim has been the face of the North’s recent pressure campaign against South Korea that has included rhetorical barbs at President Moon Jae-in, who has made rapprochement with Pyongyang a major part of his political career.
The US President, meanwhile, has swung from threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea during his first year in office to boasting of falling “in love” with Mr Kim and repeatedly echoing the regime’s criticism of American military activities on the peninsula.
Ms Kim had kind words for Mr Trump in her message.
“North Korea has no intention of harming the US,” she said, “and Kim Jong Un has made this clear to Trump.”