DPRK's Kim Yo-jong Condemns US-South Korean Drills, Pledges to Develop Better First Strike Weapons
Morgan Artyukhina . Sputnik International
01:09 GMT 10.08.2021(updated 07:50 GMT 10.08.2021)
Peace talks in 2018 yielded an end-of-war declaration between the Koreas, but despite several summits between then-US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, no further progress toward ending hostilities was made, and the posturing and threats soon returned.
As the US and South Korea prepare for annual large-scale military exercises North Korea has long claimed are rehearsals of an invasion, Kim Yo-jong condemned the drills, calling them ultimately self-destructive.
"The US and South Korean militaries eventually began combined military exercises that further facilitates instability," Kim said in a Tuesday statement carried by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "We express strong regret over South Korean authorities' act of betrayal."
"We will strengthen our national defense and strong preemptive capabilities to swiftly respond to any military act," added Kim, who is vice-director of the Information and Publicity Department of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee and sister to Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) leader Kim Jong Un.
The US and South Korea are set to begin preparing on Tuesday for their annual summertime exercises next week. According to Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency, the four-day exercise aims to test the military's response to "unexpected situation[s] before a war breaks out," which will be followed by a ten-day computer-simulated Combined Command Post Training.
For the past two years, the drills have been considerably scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but during the acme of rapprochement in 2018, Pyongyang nearly convinced Seoul to drop the exercises before Washington stepped in and reasserted its agenda, which is counter to reunification and peace on the peninsula.
The US maintains a 28,000-strong deployment of troops in South Korea, positioned there since the 1950-53 Korean War when the US led an international invasion force on a mission to halt reunification of the country under communist rule. Korea had split in 1945 at the end of World War II, which ended before the Soviet Union had totally liberated Korea from Japanese colonial rule, and a civil war broke out in 1949 in which the United Nations intervened in one of the early battlefields of the Cold War.
That war ended with just a ceasefire, not a permanent peace treaty, and with the dividing line fought back to nearly the same place it was before the war began, but with more than 2 million Koreans killed, most of them by US strategic bombing that leveled cities like Pyongyang, Nam'po, and Kanggye.
Relations steadily cooled after the heady peacemaking days of 2018, and the following year, the DPRK began testing a new generation of rocket artillery weapons they claimed could evade the anti-ballistic missile defenses stationed in the South by the United States.
US President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has plotted a different path in US relations with the DPRK than his predecessor, Donald Trump, who held several summits with Kim Jong Un before it became apparent Kim wouldn't unilaterally give up the socialist country's nuclear weapons program, which he says is a final guarantee of the country's security and independence. Biden has insisted Kim agree to denuclearization before any talks will begin - expectations Kim Yo Jong dismissed as "wrong-headed" earlier this year.
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