North Korea warns Seoul of ‘serious threat’ over missile remarks

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s influential sister has called South Korea’s defense minister a “scum” for talking about pre-emptive strikes on North Korea, warning Sunday. Japan that the South could face “a serious threat.”

Kim Yo Jong’s statement comes amid heightened tensions between North Korea’s rivals over North Korea’s weapons tests this year, including the launch of its first intercontinental ballistic missile. after more than 4 years. Some experts say her statement could signal that North Korea will soon conduct more significant weapons tests and take a tough stance on South Korea.

The ICBM test that broke North Korea’s four-year ban on major weapons testing was a huge embarrassment for South Korea’s liberal President Moon Jae-in, who has worked to reach greater reconciliation. between countries and find a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear problem. crisis.

During a visit to the country’s Strategic Missile Command on Friday, South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook said that South Korea is capable and ready to launch precision strikes on North Korea if it detects North Korea. Tien intends to fire missiles at Korea. Seoul has long maintained such a pre-emptive military strategy to deal with North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats, but the fact that a senior Seoul official under the Moon administration came out publicly Discussing it is still an anomaly.

On Sunday, Kim’s older sister, Kim Yo Jong, made harsh accusations against Suh and threats against Seoul.

“A senseless and scumbag guy dares to mention a pre-emptive strike in a nuclear weapons country,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by state media. “South Korea may face a serious threat due to the defense minister’s reckless remarks.”

“South Korea should be self-disciplined if it wants to prevent a disaster,” she said.

Kim Yo Jong, a senior official in North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, is in charge of relations with Seoul and Washington. South Korea’s spy agency says she is North Korea’s number two official after her brother.

Pak Jong Chon, a secretary in the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, separately warned that “any small misjudgment and malicious statement to sway the other side in the current situation” could trigger “a dangerous conflict and an all-out war.”

Pak said the North would “mercilessly direct its military force to destroy the main targets in Seoul and the South Korean army” if South Korea launched a pre-emptive strike against the North.

Relations between the two Koreas briefly improved in 2018 after the North suddenly contacted South Korea and the United States and expressed its willingness to bring its nuclear program to the negotiating table. At that time, Kim Yo Jong visited South Korea to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and conveyed her brother’s invitation to Moon to visit the North. Finally, Kim Jong Un and Moon met three times in 2018.

But North Korea turned its back on Moon and severed ties with South Korea after broader diplomatic relations with the US collapsed in 2019 over a dispute over US-led economic sanctions against North Korea. Tien.

“Kim Yo Jong’s remarks herald another important military test,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “In the same way that Moscow and Beijing are trying to instill in the world that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is somehow NATO’s fault, Pyongyang will blame its nuclear and missile advances on the alliance. America-Korea”.

Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said North Korea’s backlash indicates it will take tough steps towards South Korea. He said Pyongyang is sensitive to Seoul’s pre-emptive strike capabilities because it lacks military assets and the ability to detect South Korean attacks.

But Cheong added that Seoul’s public comments about pre-emptive strikes would only help strengthen the voice of hardline officials in Pyongyang and heighten tensions between the two Koreas.

Moon’s only five-year term ends in May, when he will be replaced by conservative Yoon Suk Yeol, who openly discussed his campaign strategy of preemptive strikes against North Korea. . His liberal opponents have criticized him for unnecessarily provoking North Korea, but Yoon has said he will pursue a principled approach towards Pyongyang.

The United States has urged North Korea to return to negotiations without preconditions, but North Korea has dismissed such an outrageous move and said the US must first give up its hostility to them. Kim Jong Un has repeatedly vowed to expand his nuclear arsenal amid the ongoing diplomatic stalemate with Washington.

Some experts say North Korea’s recent missile tests are aimed at perfecting weapons technology, increasing leverage in future negotiations with the United States and ensuring stronger loyalty within the country. set. They say North Korea could soon conduct another ICBM launch, launch a satellite-carrying missile or test a nuclear device in the coming weeks.

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