North Korean Leader’s Sister Criticizes South Korea’s Live-Fire Drills as Suicidal

North Korean Leader’s Sister Criticizes South Korea’s Live-Fire Drills as Suicidal

The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, has sharply criticized South Korea’s recent live-fire drills near the border, labeling them as “suicidal hysteria.” She issued a stern warning on Monday, threatening unspecified military actions if further provocations occur.

Kim Yo Jong’s statement came in response to South Korea’s recent firing exercises along its tense land and sea borders with North Korea. These drills were the first of their kind since South Korea suspended a 2018 agreement with the North, which aimed to ease front-line military tensions.

“The question is why the enemy kicked off such war drills near the border, suicidal hysteria, for which they will have to sustain terrible disaster,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by state media. She accused South Korea’s conservative government of deliberately escalating tensions to escape a domestic political crisis. She emphasized that the riskiness of the South Korean drills is evident to everyone, especially given the “touch-and-go situation” established after the U.S., South Korea, and Japan recently held a new military exercise that North Korea views as a security threat.

“In case it is judged according to our criteria that they violated the sovereignty of (North Korea) and committed an act tantamount to a declaration of war, our armed forces will immediately carry out its mission and duty assigned by the (North Korean) Constitution,” she said, without elaborating.

North Korea has been engaged in a provocative run of weapons tests since 2022. However, its two recent tests — one on a missile with “a super-large warhead” and the other on a multi-warhead missile — drew widespread skepticism from South Korean officials and experts. They suggested that North Korea likely fabricated successful launches to cover up failed tests.

In early June, South Korea fully suspended the 2018 inter-Korean military pact after North Korea flew balloons carrying manure, cigarette butts, and waste paper across the border. This was in protest against South Korean activists scattering political leaflets in the North via their own balloons.

The military agreement, reached during a short-lived era of reconciliation between the Koreas, required the two countries to cease all hostile acts at border areas, such as live-firing drills, aerial surveillance, and psychological warfare. The deal had already been in danger of collapse, with both Koreas taking steps in breach of it amid animosities over North Korea’s spy satellite launch last November.

Kim Yo Jong’s condemnation of South Korea’s live-fire drills as “suicidal hysteria” underscores the heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The drills, conducted near both the tense maritime border in the Yellow Sea and the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, are the first of their kind in six years. They come after South Korea withdrew from the 2018 inter-Korean military accord meant to reduce tensions along the border. Pyongyang had unilaterally suspended the agreement in November.

“I affirm that such an undisguised war game being staged by the enemy near the border of the DPRK is just an inexcusable and explicit provocation that aggravates the situation,” Kim said in a statement carried by the government-run Korean Central News Agency. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

Kim said the drills represented “suicidal hysteria, for which [South Korea] will have to sustain terrible disaster.” Seoul suspended the inter-Korean military agreement in early June after Pyongyang launched balloons carrying trash and excrement over the border.

The DMZ has also been the site of multiple border incursions by North Korean troops over the past month. On each occasion, the South Korean military fired warning shots, and the North’s soldiers returned to their side of the border. North Korean soldiers have been observed clearing land, laying mines, reinforcing tactical roads, and installing structures that appear to be anti-tank barriers at several locations, according to Seoul’s military.

In her statement, Kim claimed the drills were an attempt by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s administration to distract from his mounting unpopularity at home. She cited an online petition calling for the impeachment of Yoon, which surpassed 1 million signatures last week.

“Yoon and his group, plunged into the worst ruling crisis, are attempting an ’emergency escape’ through the platform of ever-escalating tensions,” she said. A spokesman for the South’s Unification Ministry, which oversees inter-Korean affairs, dismissed Kim’s comments as an effort to stir up social discord.

“It is very regrettable that North Korea is interfering in our internal affairs by criticizing our head of state,” spokesman Koo Byoung-sam said at a briefing. “I make it clear once again that North Korea’s attempt to divide public opinion in our society will never work,” Koo said. “The North Korean regime should first look at itself as it isolates itself from the international community through its nuclear and missile provocations, ignores the people’s livelihood, and suppresses basic human rights.”

Kim Yo Jong’s remarks highlight the fragile state of inter-Korean relations and the potential for further escalation. As both Koreas continue to engage in provocative actions, the risk of a severe conflict looms large, with the international community closely monitoring the situation.

Source: UPI, KBS News

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