Kim Jong Un lashed out at the “vicious” sanctions regime against North Korea in the latest sign of his frustration with the pace of peace talks with the Trump administration.
Kim leveled some of his most blunt criticism yet of the sanctions restricting the flow of goods and capital to his country while visiting a construction site in a northeastern coastal city of Wonsan, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. Limits on trade and travel had put North Korea’s attempts to develop the area into a regional tourist hub in a “difficult and tense situation.”
“The hostile forces are foolishly keen on vicious sanctions to stand in our way toward promotion of people’s well-being and development and to lead us to change and submission,” KCNA cited Kim as saying, without specifying who he was referring to. “They will be made to clearly see over time how our country that has built its own strength hundreds of times defying hardship.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, who pledged to reestablish ties with North Korea during a landmark summit in June, has nonetheless insisted on maintaining the international economic embargo on the country. The administration says Kim must take more concrete steps toward giving up his nuclear arsenal before getting sanctions relief, including 10 rounds of United Nations penalties and a raft of measures by the U.S. and its allies.
Separately, a commentary published on North Korea’s Uriminzokkiri news site specifically urged South Korea to lift the so-called May 24 sanctions, which among other things restrict the country’s citizens and companies from traveling and investing north of the border. South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month walked back a suggestion that the sanctions might be repealed after a rebuke from Trump.
The North Korean leader made similar complaints about sanctions during his previous visit to Wonsan in August, saying the area was in an “acute standoff with hostile forces to stifle the Korean people through brigandish sanctions and blockade.” The remarks came during a low in the Trump administration’s up-and-down relationship with North Korea, and days later Trump postponed a planned Pyongyang trip by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.