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North Korea calls US human rights envoy a 'political housemaid' in protest of criticisms

Aug. 2, 2023 - 21:25 By AP

A North Korean flag flutters in the wind atop a 160-meter tower in the North's Kijong-dong village near the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea on Sept, 28, 2017. (AP-Yonhap)

North Korea hurled misogynistic insults Wednesday at a newly confirmed United States special envoy to monitor the country’s human rights issues and warned of unspecified security consequences if Washington continues to criticize its human rights conditions.

The statement published by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency described Julie Turner as a “wicked woman” who was picked by the Biden administration as a “political housemaid” to launch groundless attacks on the country’s human rights record.

The US Senate confirmed Turner’s appointment July 27. She previously served as the director of East Asia and the Pacific at the State Department.

The statement said the Biden administration’s public criticism of North Korea’s human rights situation highlighted its hostility toward Pyongyang in the face of an intensifying nuclear standoff between the countries. KCNA described Turner’s past criticisms of North Korea’s human rights record as absurd, and said the US “revels in meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and slandering it.”

“Turner should know that she was chosen as a political housemaid and scapegoat for the ‘human rights’ plots to pressure the DPRK, a poor policy set forth by the Biden administration driven into a scrape in the DPRK-US nuclear confrontation,” the agency said, using the initials of the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The agency said the continued US criticism on North Korean human rights issues could “backfire on it, spawning severe security issues.”

In defiance of Washington last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted senior delegates from Russia and China at a Pyongyang military parade that showcased his intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to target the US mainland. Analysts say Kim is trying to boost the visibility of his partnerships with Moscow and Beijing as he looks to break away from diplomatic isolation and insert himself into a united front against the United States.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest point in years. The pace of North Korean missile tests and the United States’ combined military exercises with South Korea have intensified in a tit-for-tat cycle.

North Korea is sensitive to any criticism of its top leadership and government, and often issues harsh remarks toward US and South Korean officials in times of animosity. The country’s language tends to be cruder when the targets are women: It called former South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute, and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “funny lady” who sometimes “looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.”