Kim's Sister Warns US, SKorea on Drills08/01 09:44
The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned Sunday that
next month's annual military drills between South Korean and U.S. troops will
undermine prospects for better ties between the Koreas, just days after the
rivals reopened their long-dormant communication channels.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim
Jong Un warned Sunday that next month's annual military drills between South
Korean and U.S. troops will undermine prospects for better ties between the
Koreas, just days after the rivals reopened their long-dormant communication
Kim Yo Jong's statement carried by state media targets only South Korea, and
this could add credence to a theory that North Korea's decision to restore the
communication lines is mainly aimed at pushing Seoul to convince Washington to
make concessions while nuclear diplomacy remains deadlocked.
"For some days I have been hearing an unpleasant story that joint military
exercises between the South Korean army and the U.S. forces could go ahead as
scheduled," Kim Yo Jong said.
"I view this as an undesirable prelude which seriously undermines the will
of the top leaders of the North and the South wishing to see a step taken
toward restoring mutual trust and which further beclouds the way ahead of the
North-South relations," she said.
She added: "Our government and army will closely follow whether the South
Korean side stages hostile war exercises in August or makes other bold
Regular drills between Seoul and Washington have been a long-running source
of animosities on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea calling them an
invasion rehearsal and responding with missile tests. South Korea and the U.S.
have repeatedly said their drills are defensive in nature.
In the past few years, South Korea and the U.S. have canceled or downsized
some of their exercises to support diplomatic efforts to end the North Korean
nuclear crisis or because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Asked about prospects for
next month's summertime drills, Boo Seung-Chan, a spokesman at South Korea's
Defense Ministry, told a briefing Thursday that Seoul and Washington were
reviewing factors like the pandemic's current status, efforts to achieve
denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and their combined military readiness.
The U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its
nuclear program in return for economic and political rewards hasn't made
progress since a second summit between Kim Jong Un and then-President Donald
Trump broke down because of disputes over U.S.-led sanctions in early 2019.
South Korea's government led by President Moon Jae-in, which wants greater
reconciliations between the Koreas, had earlier shuttled between Pyongyang and
Washington to arrange the first summit between Trump and Kim.
But North Korea later resumed harsh rhetoric against South Korea, telling it
not to meddle in its dealings with the United States. In June last year,
Pyongyang also cut off communication lines with Seoul and destroyed an empty,
South Korean-built liaison office on its territory. Some experts said Pyongyang
shifted the responsibility for the collapse of the second Kim-Trump summit to
Seoul and was frustrated with Seoul's failure to break away from Washington and
revive stalled joint economic projects held back by the sanctions.
After the two Koreas reopened their communication channels on Tuesday, talk
of bigger reconciliation steps like another summit between Kim Jong Un and Moon
quickly spread in South Korea.
But Kim Yo Jong described such sentiment as "a premature hasty judgment."
She said that "hasty speculation and groundless interpretation will only bring
Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea
said Kim Yo Jong's statement is a request for the complete cancellation of the
U.S-South Korean drills that South Korea cannot accept.
"South Korea has no justification to persuade the U.S. to suspend the South
Korea-U.S. drills, especially at a time when North Korea is negative about the
South-North summit," Cheong said.