Kim Jong Un’s sister speaks out after experts mock images from North Korea’s new spy satellite
Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo Jong has spoken out after the country’s state media released two low-resolution photos of South Korean cities as viewed from space, which some civilian experts said were too crude for surveillance purposes.
‘I really want to slap these b*****ds who are rattling on but don’t know where to start,’ Ms Yo Jong said, according to North’s Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday.
North Korea earlier claimed its rocket launches on Sunday were tests of its first military reconnaissance satellite and on Monday its state media released the grainy images.
Analysts and experts in South Korea have cast doubt over the regime’s ‘important final-stage’ test for developing its own reconnaissance satellite.
Pictured: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his sister Kim Yo Jong
North Korea earlier claimed its rocket launches on Sunday were tests of its first military reconnaissance satellite and on Monday its state media released the grainy images
Some civilian experts in South Korea and elsewhere said the photos were likely a cover for North Korea’s missile technology.
A statement from Ms Yo Jong dismissed the criticism as ‘dog barking’.
‘Didn’t they think their assessments are too inadequate and imprudent as they commented on our satellite development capability and related preparations only with two photos that we’ve published in our newspaper,’ the senior ruling Workers’ Party official said.
‘I think it’s better for them to stop talking nonsense, behave carefully and think twice,’ she warned.
Ms Yo Jong said the test satellite launched carried a commercial camera because there was no reason to use an expensive, high-resolution model for a one-time test.
She indicated that a higher-resolution camera will be installed on the final version of the military reconnaissance satellite, which is set to be launched in April 2023 or shortly after.
Pictured: Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, delivers a speech during the national meeting against the coronavirus, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Ms Yo Jong said North Korea used two outdated missiles as space launch vehicles – one for a test of tracking and receiving signals and the other for taking satellite photos and other tests.
‘If we want to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, we just fire it. We don’t use a satellite to carry out a disguised test of a long-range missile test as South Korean puppets claim to sway public opinions,’ she added.
Ms Yo Jong is considered North’s most influential official after her brother, according to South Korea’s spy service.
Pictured: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un as he directs a ground ejection test – a high-power solid fuel engine test – conducted at the Saikai satellite launch site in South Pyongan Province.
She derided South Korea’s military for its assessment of Sunday’s launches as medium-range missile firings and lambasted South Korea’s Unification Ministry for condemning the satellite launch for violating U.N. Security Council resolutions banning any ballistic rocket liftoffs by North Korea.
Ms Yo Jong said developing a spy satellite is a sovereign right directly related to North Korea’s national security. She said North Korea will fight international sanctions and boost its defense capabilities because its right to exist is being threatened.
She also dismissed the South Korean government’s assessment that North Korea still is short key remaining technologies to have functioning intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can reach the US mainland – such as the ability to protect its warheads from the harsh conditions of atmospheric reentry.
Pictured: Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 2, 2019
Ms Yo Jong questioned how North Korea could have received data from warheads until they landed in previous launches if the country truly lacked reentry technology.
A spy satellite was among a slew of high-tech weapons systems that Kim Jong Un said last year that North Korea needed to better deal with US-led military threats. Other weapons Mr Jong Un wants to develop are multi-warhead missiles, solid-fuelled long-range missiles, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and hypersonic missiles.
North Korea is under biting international sanctions for its nuclear weapons programmes, but peaceful satellite launches are not subject to the same level of restrictions.
Pictured: Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea, as taken sometime between September 25 and October 9
But analysts say developing such a satellite would provide North Korea with cover for testing ICBMs, as they share much of the same technology.
Earlier this year, Pyongyang carried out two launches, claiming it was testing components for a reconnaissance satellite, which the United States and South Korea said likely involved components of its new Hwasong-17 ICBMs.
Ms Yo Jong rebuked claims that the North’s satellite launches were thinly disguised firings of banned ICBMs.
‘If we develop ICBMs, we will fire ICBMs, and not test long-range rockets disguised as satellites,’ she said.
Pictured: Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, waits for the start of the preliminary round of the women’s hockey game between Switzerland and the combined Koreas at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea
Ms Yo Jong also dismissed analysts doubting that the North has the advanced technology needed for the rocket to survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, saying she would explain it in ‘an easy-to-understand manner’ to their naysayers.
‘If the atmospheric re-entry technology was insufficient, it would not be possible to receive remote data from the pilot combat unit until the moment of impact,’ she said.
The weekend’s launch comes after a year of unprecedented weapons tests by North Korea, including the launch of its most advanced ICBM the month before.
The United States and South Korea have warned for months that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test.
The two countries held a joint air drill on Tuesday, and deployed a US B-52H strategic bomber to the Korean peninsula, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
The long-range heavy bomber was part of an exercise that included the US and South Korea’s most advanced jets – including the F-22 and the F-35 stealth fighters.
Experts say North Korea is particularly sensitive about US-South Korean joint air drills, as its air force is one of the weakest links in its military, lacking high-tech jets and properly trained pilots.