The North Korean leader's sister, Kim Yo-jong, is warning South Korea that Seoul's foreign minister will (quote) "pay dearly" for her words on the regime's anti-virus measures.
In a statement released by the North's state-run news agency on Wednesday, Kim also threatened that already icy inter-Korean relations could even get worse.
Seoul's top diplomat Kang Kyung-wha told a forum in Bahrain last week that the North has been unresponsive to the South's requests for cross-border cooperation on COVID-19.
Kang also said the North's claim that it has no COVID-19 cases should raise eyebrows.
Experts say the regime is looking to take advantage of Kang's comments.
"The North wants to make its presence known because they've been relatively quiet for a while. They've probably calculated their stance on the Biden administration but they are walking on eggshells with President Trump. They also need to decide on their next provocation."
The timing also seems to play as a warning against Seoul and Washington.
"The fact the statement came ahead of Stephen Biegun's arrival in South Korea means the North is warning both Seoul and Washington to be careful with their words. The North knows there'll be a message for the regime during Biegun's visit."
Kim's criticism comes almost six months after she said the North would blow up the inter-Korean joint liaison office over the flying of anti-Pyeongyang leaflets across the border by defectors living in the South.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.