North Korea has expressed displeasure over South going ahead with joint military drills with the US forces which are held every year in spring and summer.
“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,” said Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim Yo Jong works as vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
However, Seoul said it is “still discussing with the US side the joint military exercises” set for later this month.
“Drills will be a joint decision between South Korea and the US,” South Korean Defense Ministry Spokesperson Boo Seung-chan said, according to daily Korean Herald.
The warning from Pyongyang came as North and South resumed cross-border communication lines that were cut off by Pyongyang last June.
The move was the result of an agreement between South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“If one looks back at the past three years, the North-South relations underwent undesirable turns, twists and fluctuation and inched to the crisis even though the top leaders of the North and the South had held each other’s hands and made and published such a momentous agreement as the joint declaration,” said Kim’s sister, rejecting any “hasty speculation and groundless interpretation” about restoration of the telephone line, saying it “will only bring despair.”
The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency had reported the decision to restore telephone line reflects the Korean nation’s desire for better relations and leaders of the two countries have “agreed to make a big stride in recovering mutual trust and promoting reconciliation.”
“What I think is that the restoration of the communication liaison lines should not be taken as anything more than just the physical reconnection,” Kim asserted, referring to various “interpretations” regarding thaw in relations between the divided Koreas.
North Korea severed communication with South Korea and also blew up an inter-Korean liaison office along the border in June 2020.
On scheduled South Korea-US military exercises, Kim said: “We have never discussed the scale or form of the joint military exercises, the ones on the way at such a crucial time as now.”
“Our government and army will closely follow whether the South Korean side stages hostile war exercises in August or makes other bold decision.
There was an upturn in ties as Moon and Kim met three times in 2018 but the positivity quickly fizzled out as talks between the North Korean leader and ex-US President Donald Trump broke down.
Despite the prevalent animosity, South Korea’s president reiterated his wish to resume dialogue with Pyongyang earlier this year, saying that it was time to turn the “peace clock” again and learn lessons from the difficulties encountered in the peace process.
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