Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, on Monday issued a statement criticising the United States and South Korea for holding military exercises, the AP reported. In what was North Korea’s first comment directed at the new Joe Biden administration, Kim Yo Jong warned the US against further provocations.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to issue a word of advice to the new US administration, which is so eager to give off a smell of gunpowder in our land from across the ocean,” Kim Yo Jong said. “If they want to have a good night’s sleep for the next four years, it would be good for them not to do things that would prevent them from sleeping properly from the start.”
Kim Yo Jong also said that Pyongyang will keep an eye on South Korea’s attitude and behavior and will take “exceptional measures” if they become “provocative”, AP reported, quoting North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
North Korea will also consider pulling out of an inter-Korean military agreement aimed at reducing tensions along their shared border, and review whether to dissolve several organisations aimed at cooperation with the South, Kim Yo Jong added, according to Reuters.
Her statement came hours before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Asia, where they will visit Japanese capital Tokyo and South Korean capital Seoul.
The timing of Kim Jong Un’s influential sister seems designed to ensure that North Korea will be at the top of Blinken and Austin’s agenda when they land in Seoul, Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Korea expert at King’s College in London told Reuters.
Even as US has not issued an official statement on Kim Yo Jong’s comments, an unidentified US official told AP that Washington DC has tried to reach out to North Korea through multiple channels since last month, but was yet to receive a response.
South Korean and American troops began a joint springtime military drill last week, which was limited to computer simulations because of the coronavirus risk as well as the ongoing efforts to engage with the North, according to Reuters.