North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s influential sister Kim Yo Jong on Tuesday blasted Seoul’s “treacherous” attitude toward joint military drills between South Korea and the United States, warning the two allies that they are facing serious security threats.
Kim Yo Jong, one of her brother’s closest advisers, denounced the “dangerous” military exercises conducted jointly by Seoul and Washington in August, which Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for an invasion of the North.
“I take this opportunity to express my deep regret over the perfidious treatment of the South Korean authorities,” she said in a statement released by the official North Korean news agency KCNA.
The South Korean and U.S. armies began preliminary training Tuesday ahead of their annual summer exercises next week.
By conducting the military maneuvers, Seoul and Washington “would surely face greater security threats,” she warned, adding that the North would strengthen its defense and preemptive strike capabilities.
Kim Yo Jong’s statements come despite an unexpected thaw on the Korean Peninsula spurred by a series of personal letters between her brother and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The two sides restored cross-border communications in July that had been interrupted for more than a year, assuring that the leaders had agreed to work to improve relations.
Seoul and Washington are treaty allies, with the United States stationing nearly 28,500 troops in South Korea to defend the country from its nuclear-armed neighbor.
They have already scaled back their annual joint military exercises to facilitate nuclear talks with Pyongyang.
The South Korean president counts to his credit the negotiation of the first-ever summit between North Korea and a sitting U.S. president in Singapore in 2018.
But the North broke off contact with Seoul again after the second summit between Kim and then-U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi failed, leaving nuclear talks stalled.