SEOUL (REUTERS) – North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, said on Friday (Aug 19) the country will never deal with an “audacious” South Korean initiative, which would boost the North’s economy in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons.

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol said in May his country was “prepared to work with the international community to present an audacious plan that will vastly strengthen North Korea’s economy and improve the quality of life for its people”.

Marking his 100th day in office, Yoon on Wednesday repeated his willingness to provide phased economic aid to North Korea if it ends nuclear weapons development and begins denuclearisation.

Kim Yo Jong said in a KCNA statement that such a plan is ignorant and “the height of folly far from realisation”, adding that the premise of “if the North Korea take denuclearisation measures” itself is wrong.

“Thinking that the idea of exchanging our national core nuclear with ‘economic cooperation’ is a dream, hope and initiative of Yoon Suk-yeol, I cannot help but think he is really innocent and young,” she added.

“If the ‘audacious initiative’ doesn’t work, I don’t know with what kind of wild plan he will knock on our door, but I am making it clear that we will never deal with it,” she said.

Experts say the South’s latest economic plan is similar to proposals by previous presidents, including those during the summits between former US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, suggesting the North is unlikely to accept the offer.

“Yoon’s initiative adds to a long list of failed offers involving South Korean promises to provide economic benefits to North Korea … These were the same assumptions that were behind a succession of failed efforts to jump-start denuclearisation talks,” Scott Snyder, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, said in a blog post on Thursday.

“The acuteness of North Korea’s economic vulnerability will make the leadership all the more resistant toward South Korean-proposed infrastructure projects,” he added.

North Korea, meanwhile, test fired two cruise missiles into the sea on Wednesday, the first such test in two months. It came after the country declared victory over Covid-19 last week.