North Korea kept criticizing South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha for casting doubt over its assertion that there were no coronavirus outbreaks there, warning of consequences for her “impudent” remark, state media reported on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Kang said it was “hard to believe” that North Korea had no coronavirus cases even as the country has been making all-out efforts to prevent the disease.
North Korea has not officially confirmed any infections, though it has said there were thousands of “suspected cases.”
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who serves as a senior ruling Workers’ Party official, stated the official KCNA news agency, saying Kang’s remarks were intended to further strain inter-Korean ties.
“It can be seen from the reckless remarks made by her without any consideration of the consequences that she is too eager to chill the frozen relations further,” Kim said.
“We will never forget her words, and she might have to pay dearly for it.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un held three summits in 2018, but the relations have made little progress since a 2019 meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, which Moon had offered to mediate.
KCNA said last week that North Korea has commanded “top-class emergency measures” to block the coronavirus from making inroads.
Seoul’s National Intelligence Service has said an outbreak in the North could not be ruled out as the isolated nation had trade and people-to-people exchanges with China, where the virus emerged a year ago, before sealing the border in late January.
The KCNA report came as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, Washington’s point man on North Korea who had led denuclearisation talks, arrived in Seoul late on Monday on his possible last trip before a new U.S. government under President-elect Joe Biden takes office next month.
Pyongyang has not issued a confirmed response to the recent U.S. election.