You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Kim Jong-un’s sister warns South Korea-US drills will rekindle tensions

The Independent logo The Independent 1/08/2021 Via AP news wire
a person posing for the camera: Olympics No North Korea - Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved © Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved Olympics No North Korea - Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned on Sunday that next month’s annual military drills between South Korean and US troops will undermine prospects ties between the Koreas, just days after the rivals reopened their long-dormant communication channels.

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 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 US forces could go ahead as scheduled,” she 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 decision.”

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 US have repeatedly said their drills are defensive in nature.

In the past few years, South Korea and the US have cancelled 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 spokesperson at South Korea’s defence ministry, told a briefing Thursday that Seoul and Washington were reviewing factors like the pandemic’s current status, efforts to achieve denuclearisation on the Korean -peninsula and their combined military readiness.

The US-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 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 Mr Trump and Mr Kim.

But North Korea later resumed harsh rhetoric against South Korea, telling it not to meddle in its dealings with the United States. 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.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

More from The Independent

The Independent
The Independent
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon