In North Korea’s first comments directed at the Biden administration, Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister on Tuesday warned the United States to “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace” for the next four years.
Kim Yo Jong’s statement was issued as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Asia to talk with U.S. allies Japan and South Korea. They have meetings in Tokyo on Tuesday before speaking to officials in Seoul on Wednesday.
“We take this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off [gun] powder smell in our land,” she said.
“If it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”
Kim Yo Jong, a senior official who handles inter-Korean affairs, criticized the U.S. and South Korea for holding military exercises. She also said the North would consider abandoning a 2018 agreement on reducing military tensions.
She said the North 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.
The North “will watch the future attitude and actions of the [South Korean] authorities” before determining whether to take measures against the South, she said in her statement published in Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
Challenges posed by North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and China’s growing aggression loom large in the Biden administration’s first Cabinet-level trip abroad.
A senior Biden administration official said Saturday that U.S. officials have reached out to North Korea through multiple channels since last month, but had yet to receive a response. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
“This is Kim Yo Jong continuing to be the tip of the wedge North Korea tries to drive between South Korea and its U.S. ally,” Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul, said.
Biden’s presidency begins as Kim Jong Un vows to strengthen his nuclear weapons program.
The South Korean and U.S militaries began annual military exercises last week that continue through Thursday.
The drills are command post exercises and computerized simulation and don’t involve field training. They said they held the downsized drills after reviewing factors like the status of the coronavirus and diplomatic efforts to resume nuclear negotiations with North Korea.
But Kim Yo Jong said even the smaller drills are an act of hostility toward the North. In the past, the North has often responded to U.S.-South Korea drills with missile tests.
“[War drills] and hostility can never go with dialogue and cooperation,” she said.
Boo Seung-chan, a spokesperson from South Korea’s Defense Ministry, said the combined drills were defensive in nature and called for the North to show a more “flexible attitude.”
He said the South’s military wasn’t detecting any unusual signs of military activity from the North.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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