Kim Jong Un’s sister has criticised the United States and South Korea for holding military exercises in North Korea’s first comments towards Joe Biden’s administration.
Kim Yo Jong issued a statement on Tuesday in which she warned Washington against further provocations if it wants a “good night’s sleep for the next four years”.
It came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Asia to talk to allies Japan and South Korea about North Korea and other regional issues.
She said Pyongyang would also consider scrapping an office that handled South Korean tours to the North’s scenic Diamond Mountain, which Seoul suspended in 2008 after a North Korean guard fatally shot a South Korean tourist.
“We will keep an eye on (South Korea’s) attitude and behavior, and if they become more provocative, we could take exceptional measures,” she said in her statement published in Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to issue a word of advice to the new US administration, which is so eager to give off a smell of gunpowder in our land from across the ocean,” she said.
Challenges posed by North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and China’s growing influence loom large in the Biden administration’s first Cabinet-level trip abroad, part of a larger effort to bolster US influence and clam concerns about the Washington’s role in Asia following four years of Donald Trump’s “America first” approach.
The South Korean and US militaries began annual military exercises last week that continue through until Thursday. The drills are command post exercises and computerised simulation and do not involve field training.
“War rehearsals cannot coexist with dialogue, hostility cannot coexist with cooperation,” she said.
Boo Seung-chan, a spokesperson from South Korea’s Defence Ministry, said the combined drills were defensive in nature and called for the North to show a more “flexible attitude” that would be constructive to stabilising peace on the Korean Peninsula.
He added the South’s military was not detecting any unusual signs of military activity from the North.