North Korea Lashes Out at U.S., Saying China Is Eclipsing It

In another statement carried Thursday by Rodong Sinmun, Kim Yo-jong, Mr. Kim’s sister and his de facto spokeswoman, assailed the propaganda campaign. “What matters is that those human scum hardly worth their value as human beings had the temerity of faulting our supreme leadership and citing ‘nuclear issue,’” Ms. Kim said.

If South Korea does not stop the leaflets, Ms. Kim said, North Korea could scrap an agreement between Mr. Kim and South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, to operate a joint liaison office and cease all hostile military acts along the border.

Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon agreed to ease tensions and improve relations during two summit meetings in 2018. Setting up the liaison office and ending cross-border propaganda were part of those agreements. But anti-North activists in the South, mainly defectors, have resumed their leaflet campaign in recent months.

Inter-Korean relations have chilled rapidly since Mr. Kim’s second summit meeting with President Trump, held in Vietnam in February of last year, ended without an agreement on how to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program or when to ease United Nations sanctions imposed on the country. North Korea’s economic isolation has deepened since the global coronavirus outbreak.

Reacting to Kim Yo-jong’s statement, Yoh Sang-key, a spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, criticized the defectors for raising tensions by releasing the leaflets. He also said that most of the leaflets had ended up south of the border, creating a trash problem.

Mr. Yoh indicated that South Korea was working on legislation to curtail the leaflet campaign.

Park Sang-hak, head of Fighters for Free North Korea, a defectors’ organization that has sent leaflets across the border, said the group would continue to do so.

“We are no longer slaves of North Korea, we are citizens of a free South Korea with an obligation to speak the truth,” Mr. Park said. He called the Unification Ministry a “spokesman for North Korea.”

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