North Korea complains about ‘stink’ of U.S.-South Korea military exercises

Everything we know about Kim Jong Un's sister

In North Korea's first comments directed at the Biden administration, Kim Jong Un's powerful sister criticised the United States and South Korea for holding military exercises and warned the USA against further provocations if it wants a "good night's sleep for the next four years".

The inter-Korean engagement that had improved in 2018 and is sought by South Korea "won't come easily again" and North Korea will be watching to see if there is further provocations, said Kim.

Kim Yo Jong, who has become a vitriolic critic of the government in Seoul over the past year, said North Korea was considering pulling out of a military agreement with the South created to lower tensions along their heavily fortified border.

Over the last few days, United States intelligence has been focused on vehicle activity at a site near Sanum-dong, outside Pyongyang, where ballistic missile and space launch vehicles are believed to have been built in the past.

Blinken and Austin are travelling in Asia this week for foreign policy and security talks with allies in Japan and South Korea, among other stops.

Challenges posed by North Korea's nuclear arsenal and China's growing influence loom large in the Biden administration's first Cabinet-level trip overseas, part of a larger effort to bolster USA influence and clam concerns about the U.S. role in Asia following four years of President Donald Trump's "America first" approach.

In remarks on state media, Kim Yo-jong criticised the US and South Korea for conducting joint military exercises.

The two officials, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were due to visit South Korea for similar talks from Wednesday.

Military and intelligence officials have long said they assess that North Korea continued with research and development of missiles and nuclear warheads throughout the Trump administration despite the public rhetoric from the Trump and now the Biden administrations about denuclearization.

"We will keep an eye on (South Korea's) attitude and behavior, and if they become more provocative, we could take exceptional measures", she said in her statement published in Pyongyang's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper. "If it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step", she said.

But the administration has also made clear it wants to reset United States relations with the rest of the world, particularly traditional allies, after the tumult of the Donald Trump era.

Kim Yo Jong is a trusted adviser to her brother and was a key voice when inter-Korean tensions mounted a year ago, culminating in the North blowing up a liaison office on its side of the border.

Last week, the four-star admiral declared that the United States and its allies in the Pacific should be on guard as North Korea poses a "serious" and "immediate" threat, adding that the country over the years has continued to develop its nuclear and delivery systems that are created to strike the United States. -South Korea joint military exercises and threatened to retaliate.

"War drills and hostility can never go with dialogue and cooperation", Ms Kim said.

But inter-Korean relations have lain in ruin amid the stalemate in the nuclear diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang.

North Korea might begin flight testing an improved design for its inter-continental ballistic missiles "in the near future", the head of the USA military's Northern Command said on Tuesday, a move that would sharply increase tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.

Boo Seung-chan, a spokesperson from South Korea's Defence Ministry, said the combined drills were defensive in nature and called for the North to show a more "flexible attitude" that would be constructive to stabilising peace on the Korean Peninsula.

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