NORTH KOREA broke its conspicuous silence in recent months with a fiery message to leaders within the Biden administration during their tour through the region and to their local allies.
“We take this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off the [gun]powder smell in our land,” Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the country’s autocratic leader, Kim Jong Un, said in a statement. “If it wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”
Kim threatened to tear up fragile military agreements with South Korea and to dismantle installations at their heavily armed shared border that are among the few sources of physical contact between the countries. And she blasted the continuation of military drills between the U.S. and South Korea – albeit pared down – as “ridiculous, impudent and stupid.”
North Korea believes the U.S. has done little, if anything, of substance in return: American forces based in the region have pared down the war games they conduct with South Korea but not ended them. Both countries consider the drills as essential to deterring North Korea even as Pyongyang sees them only as a provocation. The exercises, which had previously taken on a broad scale, now exist largely through table-top exercises or computer simulations. However, Kim singled them out in her statement on Tuesday, which ran on the official Korean Central News Agency, saying, “War drill and hostility can never go with dialogue and cooperation.”