Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnSatellite photos indicate North Korea expanding uranium enrichment The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - What do Manchin and Sinema want? North Korea says recent missiles were test of 'railway-borne' system MORE, slammed the annual military drills set to take place between the U.S. and South Korea this month, warning the South that the exercises will undermine the relationship between the Koreas.
“For some days I have been hearing an unpleasant story that joint military exercises between the South Korean army and the U.S. forces could go ahead as scheduled,” Kim Yo Jong said, according to The Associated Press, citing state media.
“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 added.
She also said her “government and army will closely follow whether the South Korean side stages hostile war exercises in August or makes other bold decision.”
“Hope or despair? That's not up to us,” she added, according to Reuters.
The comments from Kim Yo Jong come after North and South Korea restored their communication links last week after a year of inactivity. Liaison officials from each country conversed over the phone with their counterparts through a military hotline and vowed to speak on a regular basis.
The two countries are now reportedly in talks to hold a potential summit in the future.
Kim Jong Yo, however, said speculation regarding larger reconciliation steps between the two countries is “a premature hasty judgment,” according to the AP, adding that “hasty speculation and groundless interpretation will only bring despair.”
The military drills between the U.S. and South Korea have for a long time been a source of contention in the Korean Peninsula, according to the AP, with North Korea contending that the exercises are an invasion rehearsal. The North has responded with missile tests.
Washington and Seoul, however, have said the drills are defensive, the AP noted.
When asked about the upcoming drills, Boo Seung-Chan, a spokesman for South Korea’s Defense Ministry, said the two countries are looking into a number of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and the readiness of their militaries, according to the AP.
The two countries have reportedly canceled or downsized their drills in the past, sometimes for diplomatic efforts involving North Korea and its nuclear arsenal. At one point, exercises were altered because of the coronavirus.