July 26, 2023
SEOUL – Recent statements by Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea, show a “clear intention to be offensive,” according to South Korean national intelligence authorities.
In a series of statements issued earlier this month, Kim Yo-jong referred to South Korea as the Republic of Korea, in a rare move which some — including defector-turned-lawmaker Rep. Tae Yong-ho — have interpreted as North Korea recognizing South Korea as an independent nation.
In a July 13 plenary session of the National Assembly’s unification committee, Tae said that the use of the official name may be North Korea’s way of “re-establishing its relations with South Korea as two separate nations.”
South Korean intelligence authorities, however, dismissed this interpretation, The Korea Herald learned on Tuesday.
Intelligence authorities said that in North Korea’s statements, the Republic of Korea was put in quotation marks, while the US was used without quotation marks. In official statements, North Korea has typically used quotation marks to mock or ridicule, the intelligence authorities noted
The ”Republic of Korea” was also used adjacent to derisive expressions such as “treasonous group” and “bully.” In one instance, the statement said that the “‘Republic of Korea’ is acting as a stool pigeon for the US.”
The use of the South’s official name is also believed to have been part of a strategy to confuse Seoul by eliciting multiple interpretations, including one suggesting North Korea was seeking to co-exist peacefully as an independent nation.
The intelligence authorities said so far there was no evidence to suggest there has been a change in North Korea’s perception of the South as a possible target of nuclear attack and a land to re-claim through force.
North Korea’s use of South Korea’s official name is “clearly intended to offend,” and earlier interpretations that North Korea was trying to re-establish its identity as a separate nation “do not hold credibility” based on the available evidence, intelligence authorities concluded.