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Kim Jong-un's sister: US should scrap South Korea military exercises if it 'wants good night's sleep'
16 March 2021, 07:34 | Updated: 16 March 2021, 07:56
Kim Jong-un's sister has warned the United States not to hold joint military exercises with South Korea if it wants a “good night’s sleep for the next four years”.
Kim Yo-jong’s statement on Tuesday was the first time North Korea has commented towards Joe Biden's administration.
It comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrive in Asia to talk to Japan and South Korea about North Korea and other regional issues.
Ms Kim, who handles inter-Korean affairs for the North, said in a statement published in Pyongyang's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper: “A word of advice to the new US administration, which is so eager to give off a smell of gunpowder in our land from across the ocean.
"If they want to have a good night's sleep for the next four years, it would be good for them not to do things that would prevent them from sleeping properly from the start."
She also warned if South Korea becomes "more provocative, we could take exceptional measures".
The North would consider abandoning a 2018 agreement on reducing military tensions and abolish a decades-old unit tasked to handle inter-Korean relations if it no longer had to cooperate with Seoul, Ms Kim said.
She said Pyongyang would also consider scrapping an office that handled South Korean tours to the North's scenic Diamond Mountain, which Seoul suspended in 2008 after a North Korean guard fatally shot a South Korean tourist.
Challenges posed by North Korea's nuclear arsenal and China's growing influence loom large as US officials from the Biden administration make their first trip abroad, part of an effort to boost US influence amid concerns about the Washington's role in Asia following four years of Donald Trump's "America first" approach.
The South Korean and US militaries began annual military exercises last week that continue until Thursday. The drills are command post exercises and computerised simulation and do not involve field training.
But Ms Kim said even the smaller drills are an act of hostility toward the North. In the past, Pyongyang has often responded to US-South Korea drills with missile tests.
"War rehearsals cannot coexist with dialogue, hostility cannot coexist with cooperation," she said.
Boo Seung-chan, a spokesperson from South Korea's Defence Ministry, said the drills were defensive in nature and called for the North to show a more "flexible attitude" to stabilise peace on the Korean Peninsula.
He added the South's military was not detecting any unusual signs of military activity from the North.