Kim Jo Yong, the powerful sister of the North Korean leader, threatened to end inter-Korean cooperation as she condemned the ongoing military exercises between South Korea and the United States, and warned states – United against “causing a stench” if they wish. peace, state media reported on Tuesday.
This statement comes a day before the scheduled arrival of the senior American diplomat and defense chief, currently in Japan, in Seoul.
“We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration which is trying to smell powder in our country,” Kim said in a statement released by the official KCNA news agency. “If he wants to sleep in peace for the next four years, he better refrain from causing a stench at his first step.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are expected to focus on foreign and security policy during their stay in Northeast Asia.
The timing of Kim’s comments – the first direct address to the new US administration since Biden took office in January – appears designed to ensure North Korea is high on Blinken and Austin’s agenda when they land in Seoul, said Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Korean expert at King’s College London.
“Until now, the discussion has focused on the Quad, dealing with China and the review of North Korea’s policy,” he said. “From now on, Kim’s statement will be at the heart of the discussions.”
North Korea has so far rejected US calls for dialogue, the White House said on Monday, as the chill in relations that began under former President Donald Trump has continued through the presidency of Joe Biden.
Chief Kim Jong Un had three high-level summit meetings with Trump and exchanged a series of letters, but relations fell apart following the North’s insistence that sanctions be lifted as a precondition for denuclearization.
In Washington, DC, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration was conducting a “thorough” review of US policy toward North Korea and continued to solicit input from Japan and South Korea.
“We have listened carefully to their ideas, including through trilateral consultations,” Price said. The review should be completed in a few weeks.
South Korean and US troops began joint military exercises last week, with exercises limited to computer simulations due to the coronavirus pandemic as well as ongoing efforts to engage with the North.
“War exercises and hostility can never go hand in hand with dialogue and cooperation,” Kim Yo Jong said, quoted by state media.
The joint exercises have long been a source of anger for Pyongyang, and the country called for their abandonment at a rare party convention in January.
Kim warned that the inter-Korean engagement could be threatened if the South becomes “more provocative”, pointing to the inter-Korean military agreement, which was signed in September 2018, as well as a Workers’ Party body that focuses on the improvement of cross-border cooperation. .
Last year, Pyongyang exploded the inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong attributing this decision to anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent from the south. In 2019, he made a missile test series.
Kim Yo Jong’s statement, as colorful as it is, is generally consistent with previous statements by North Korea expressing frustration at what Pyongyang sees as the disparities between the U.S. diplomatic push and what it is. actually, Jenny Town, director of Stimson Center’s 38 North, told Reuters news agency.
“How despite the agreements in place, positive actions, especially on the inter-Korean agenda, have been too few while actions that strengthen the ‘old’ conflictual relationship persist,” she said.