“If it wants to sleep in peace”
SEOUL— Kim Jong Un’s sister warned that the U.S. should avoid causing a stink with North Korea if the two countries are to enjoy a peaceful relationship, as a pair of top Biden administration officials traveled to the region.
In a Tuesday state-media report, Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of the North Korean dictator, railed against combined military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea that began last week. The trainings have for years been scaled-down affairs, having moved to computer simulations. But the Kim Jong Un regime has long been irked by the exercises, choosing to view them as U.S. hostilities.
Ms. Kim mostly levied insults at the Seoul government and didn’t mention President Biden by name. But she singled out the new U.S. administration, which she said has been “trying hard to give off [a] powder smell in our land,” according to the English language version of the report.
“If it wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” said Ms. Kim, deputy director of the North’s propaganda and agitation department.
Ms. Kim has taken on a more elevated role in recent years, serving as Pyongyang’s mouthpiece for relations with the U.S. and South Korea. She hadn’t issued a statement since December, when she attacked South Korea’s then-foreign minister for casting doubts about the legitimacy of North Korea’s claims of having zero Covid-19 cases.
The North Korean state-media missive, a hallmark of the regime’s foreign affairs, came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were in Japan, with plans to next travel together to South Korea. The visits represent the first foreign trip for each. North Korea’s denuclearization is a key focus for the stops in Tokyo and Seoul.
Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang remain stalled. The Biden administration has reached out to North Korea to launch a dialogue on Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs but has yet to receive a response, the White House said Monday.
At a rare Workers’ Party Congress meeting in January, Mr. Kim said the country’s approach to the U.S. won’t change, no matter who the president is and called America its biggest enemy.
The combined U.S.-South Korea exercises, which are scheduled to end Thursday, now unfold indoors in front of computer monitors—far from the field drills that once featured beach-storming marines and rumbling tanks.
In Tuesday’s statement, Ms. Kim threatened that more provocative acts by Seoul could mean that North Korea pulls out of an inter-Korean military accord pledging to tone down military hostilities or dissolve a Workers’ Party group tasked with fostering dialogue between the two Koreas. In recent years, Pyongyang has largely brushed off Seoul’s overtures to re-engage.
“War drill and hostility can never go with dialogue and cooperation,” Ms. Kim said.
Hours after Ms. Kim’s statement was published, Seoul’s defense ministry described the joint exercises as being defensive in nature and urged dialogue between the two sides, asking the North to adopt a flexible attitude.