The ongoing diplomatic row between the United States and North Korea hit a new low point on Sunday after North Korea accused the U.S. of being “a felonious and lawless gangster state.” According to The New York Times, the diplomatic row arose after a delegation of North Korean diplomats were reportedly stopped at New York’s JFK International Airport, and a diplomatic package that was in their possession was seized by U.S. officials. The report adds that the package was confiscated by a group of agents from the United States Department of Homeland Security when the North Korean diplomats were making their way onto an aircraft bound for Pyongyang, the capital city of the country.
The North Korean delegation was returning after the conclusion of a United Nations conference when they were stopped and searched by officials from the Department of Homeland Security. While U.S. officials have not revealed what the package contained, the North Koreans claim that they had a valid diplomatic courier certificate for carrying the package. Hours after the incident came to light, the North Korean Central News Agency issues a press release in which they described the incident as a grave mistake on the part of the U.S. while warning that there will be “grave consequences to follow.” An excerpt from the statement issued by North Korea read;
“As the diplomats vigorously resisted, they grabbed the diplomatic package using physical violence and made off. This clearly shows that the U.S. is a felonious and lawless gangster state. The U.S. should reflect on its reckless act and be fully aware of the grave consequences to follow.”
The North Korean spokesperson also described the incident as “mugging” and that it was an “intolerable act of infringement upon the sovereignty of North Korea.” The statement also insisted that the U.S. explain the reason behind their behavior towards North Korean diplomats, followed by an apology. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not issue an official response to the claims made by North Korea.
This newest diplomatic row between the U.S. and North Korea comes at the same the Koreans released Otto F. Warmbier, an American college student who was in the country for 17 months in captivity. However, Warmbier, who was healthy at the time of his arrest came back a completely different man and had suffered extensive brain damage during his imprisonment in North Korea. The Koreans claimed that Warmbier was released on “humanitarian grounds” while not bothering to reveal what happened to him in the 17 months he was in prison. Warmbier was arrested back in January 2016 after he overstayed in North Korea – being there on a tourist visa. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison by North Korea and was accused of committing the “hostile act” of stealing a political poster from a wall in his hotel.
[Featured Image By Wong Maye-E/AP Images]