BEIJING – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister and close aide has criticized joint military drills due later this month between the United States and the South, state-run media reported Sunday.
Such military exercises will “further cloud the future” of inter-Korean relations, Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, with the nuclear-armed country having lambasted them as a “rehearsal for war” and invasion.
Late last month, Kim Jong Un warned at the first workshop of the commanders and political officers of the Korean People’s Army that “hostile forces” were intensifying “frantic and persistent war drills for aggression.”
Last Tuesday marked the 68th anniversary of the signing of an armistice that suspended open hostilities in the 1950-1953 Korean War, in which the North was supported by China and the Soviet Union and the South was backed by U.S.-led U.N. forces.
On the same day, the two Koreas said Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In agreed to reconnect communications between the two nations, after exchanging several friendly letters since April.
But Kim Yo Jong said in the statement that the meaning of the restoration should not be “expanded,” adding baseless interpretations can “only lead to disappointment.”
South Korea and the United States usually conduct their joint military exercises in August every year. To avoid irritating North Korea, Moon may seek a suspension or scaling down of the drills, some pundits said.
As the Korean War ended in a cease-fire rather than a peace treaty, the North and South are still technically in a state of war.
In June 2020, Pyongyang blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in the country’s border city of Kaesong after shutting down all lines of communication with Seoul, in retaliation for defectors launching balloons containing leaflets critical of the North.