North Korea threatens US and South Korea over military exercises

Ahead of planned summer military exercises between U.S. and South Korean forces, North Korea is toughening its tone. North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un’s influential sister, Kim Yo Jong, accused the U.S. of hostile policies and South Korea of “insidious behavior.”

Both sides must prepare for a “more serious security threat” because of their actions, the party official was quoted as saying by state media. North Korea will increase its capabilities for “a powerful preemptive strike,” she said. She indicated that her brother authorized the statement.

North Korea, widely isolated because of its nuclear weapons program, regularly accuses the United States of preparing for an attack through its maneuvers with South Korea. Seoul and Washington deny that. In recent years, both countries had already reduced the scope of some exercises, partly for diplomatic reasons.

Kim Yo Jong’s statement followed reports in South Korean media that South Korea and the U.S. will begin their summer exercises on a smaller scale next Monday. According to the statement, the eleven-day command exercise will focus on computer simulations. Before that, there will be four days of joint crisis management training, which started Tuesday, it said. The U.S. has deployed 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against threats from North Korea.

Kim Yo Jong saw the crisis management training as the start of summer exercises already. “Whatever their scale or nature, the joint military exercises are of an aggressive nature as they are a war drill and a preliminary exercise for nuclear war.” She called on the U.S. to withdraw its soldiers. Kim had already warned South Korea about new maneuvers with the U.S. in early August. The warning came just days after the two countries restored communication channels that had been severed for months.