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N. Korea Lambasts S. Korea-U.S. Exercise, Threatens to Scrap Military Agreement

Hot Issues of the Week2021-03-21


The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un lambasted Seoul and Washington's ongoing joint military exercise, threatening to abandon the two Koreas' military peace agreement and even abolish its organ in charge of inter-Korean affairs. The statement, which also included a warning for the Joe Biden administration, comes a day ahead of scheduled visits to Seoul by the U.S. secretaries of state and defense.

In a statement issued through North Korean state media on Tuesday, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of regime leader Kim Jong-un, classified Seoul and Washington's ongoing joint military drills as "practice for a war of invasion," regardless of size or method.

Kim criticized Seoul for stressing that the exercises are held annually, defensive in nature, and being conducted through digital simulations, saying that Pyongyang has always opposed the drills in general.

While Pyongyang has given Seoul enough opportunities to return to the state of reconciliation from three years ago, Kim said the South has instead chosen "March of war" and "March of crisis." She added that it won't be easy to return to the "warm spring days."

The leader’s powerful sister then threatened to break up the ruling party's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, which handles inter-Korean affairs, and other organizations that deal with cross-border exchanges and cooperation, in response to the South's "hostile acts."

She went further to suggest scrapping the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement that aimed to defuse tensions, after monitoring Seoul's attitude and actions.

Kim also warned the Joe Biden administration not to engage in such hostile acts, saying it better not do things that would "keep it from getting a good night's sleep" if it wishes to sleep well for the next four years.

The warning is Pyongyang's first message to the Biden administration since it took office in January and also comes a day ahead of planned visits to Seoul by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, in response to the North's statement, stressed that the combined military exercise, under no circumstance, should be used as an opportunity to heighten military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea on Thursday confirmed that the United States recently tried to initiate contact, saying it will continue to ignore any communication unless Washington withdraws its hostile policies toward Pyongyang.

North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui issued the position in a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency(KCNA).

Choe confirmed that the U.S. has attempted to initiate contact since mid-February through diverse channels including the New York channel, which refers to North Korea's mission to the United Nations based in the city.

Choe said that the U.S. has reached out to Pyongyang even the day before its combined exercises with South Korea started from a "third country."

Dismissing the U.S. attempt at contact as a "cheap trick to buy time," Choe stressed that no North Korea-U.S. contact or talks will be held unless the U.S. withdraws its hostile policies on the North and that Pyongyang will continue to ignore the U.S.' attempts to reach out to the North.

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