Military steps threatened by Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister over South Korea’s “suicidal hysteria” live-fire drills

Seoul, South Korea – Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued a stern warning to South Korea on Monday, criticizing the recent front-line live-fire drills as “suicidal hysteria” and threatening military retaliation if further provoked. This latest development comes in the wake of South Korea’s decision to resume firing exercises near the tense land and sea borders with North Korea. The drills mark a significant escalation in tensions between the two Koreas, as they were the first of their kind since South Korea suspended a 2018 agreement with the North aimed at easing military tensions in June.

Kim Yo Jong accused the South Korean government of deliberately escalating tensions to divert attention from domestic political issues. She suggested that the recent military exercises were a dangerous move, particularly given the backdrop of a trilateral military exercise involving the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, which North Korea perceives as a security threat. Kim Yo Jong cautioned that any violation of North Korea’s sovereignty could be seen as an act of war, indicating that the North Korean armed forces are prepared to fulfill their duties as dictated by the country’s constitution.

In response to Kim Yo Jong’s statement, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Unification Ministry characterized her remarks as an attempt to sow discord within South Korea. The spokesperson highlighted North Korea’s own human rights violations and international isolation stemming from its nuclear program. Meanwhile, the South Korean Defense Ministry announced its intention to continue with live-fire drills as planned, though specific details regarding timing and location were not disclosed.

North Korea has engaged in a series of provocative weapons tests since 2022, with two recent tests drawing skepticism from South Korean officials and experts. The tests, involving a missile with a “super-large warhead” and a multiwarhead missile, have raised concerns about the accuracy of North Korea’s claims. The deteriorating situation led South Korea to suspend the 2018 inter-Korean military pact, a move triggered by North Korea’s protest action involving the flying of balloons carrying various materials across the border. This development marks a significant setback for inter-Korean relations, which had briefly shown signs of improvement before escalating tensions brought about by recent events.

The military agreement, established during a period of reconciliation between the Koreas, mandated the cessation of all hostile acts at border areas. However, breaches of the agreement by both North and South Korea, including the spy satellite launch by North Korea, had already strained the fragile peace. The latest round of provocations and threats underscores the precarious nature of relations on the Korean Peninsula, with the risk of conflict looming large in a region plagued by historical animosities and geopolitical rivalries.