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North Korea calls South Korea 'ignorant, incompetent' in meltdown over days-old military drills

Tech Insider logo Tech Insider 5/17/2018 Alex Lockie

South Korea's leader, Moon Jae-in, and the North's Kim Jong Un met at a historic summit on April 27 at the border village of Panmunjom. © Korea Summit Press Pool via AP, File South Korea's leader, Moon Jae-in, and the North's Kim Jong Un met at a historic summit on April 27 at the border village of Panmunjom. North Korea's top negotiator called South Korea's government "ignorant and incompetent" on Thursday in the latest installment of Pyongyang lashing out at the U.S. and Seoul for essentially carrying out business as usual.

Ri Son Gwon, the North Korean negotiator, slammed South Korea for participating in military drills with the U.S., following up a series of statements on Tuesday when Pyongyang canceled talks with Seoul and threatened to cancel a planned summit with President Donald Trump.

While North Korea commonly complains about U.S. and South Korean military drills, which it sees as a rehearsal for invasion, the timing of the recent complaints struck many as odd.

The drills in question, called Max Thunder, have been going on since May 11. North Korea endured four solid days of the drills before saying anything about them. In fact, one day into the drills, North Korea announced it would invite foreign journalists to cover the destruction of its nuclear test site. 

But on Tuesday, that all changed with North Korea slamming the drills and their inclusion of the U.S.'s B-52 nuclear-capable bomber, something that regional media had reported. The Pentagon told Business Insider that the B-52s were never scheduled to take part in the drills.

Before Max Thunder, two other massive drills had taken place in April and May with hardly a peep from Pyongyang.

In past months, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, who reportedly said he "understands" why the drills were going on, had gone forward with peace talks without asking for them to be toned down. Nevertheless, North Korea cited the drills as its main reason for canceling talks with South Korea.

"Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the north-south high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of South Korea," Ri said, according to Reuters

In a separate statement from North Korean media, Pyongyang said it couldn't open up its country or work with others.

"It is a lesson shown by the past history that it would never be possible to write a new history of opening up the prospect of the country and nation even though we may sit with those without trust and confidence and without manners," it wrote.

Since a 2018 New Year's address, Kim has put on a spectacular diplomatic offensive and made history by leaving his country for the first time since taking power to meet at least twice with China's President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

But since Tuesday, North Korea has begun a marked backslide towards the old rhetoric of hostilities, and it all kicked off with a meltdown over days-old military drills. 

As for why North Korea may have gone back to tough talking points, read here


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