SEOUL: The powerful sister of North Korea’s leader issued a warning on Tuesday that her country is prepared to take “quick, overwhelming action” against the United States and South Korea, a day after the United States flew a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber in a demonstration of strength against the North.
The B-52 bomber participated in the latest in a series of joint US-South Korean training exercises over the Korean Peninsula on Monday. Later this month, their militaries will relaunch their largest field exercises in years.
Despite the lack of specifics in Kim Yo Jong’s statement, North Korea has frequently test-launched missiles in response to US-South Korean military drills because it views them as an invasion rehearsal.
“We keep our eyes on the restless military moves by the US forces and the South Korean puppet military and are always ready to take appropriate, quick, and overwhelming action at any time according to our judgment,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement broadcast by state media.
“The demonstrative military moves and all sorts of rhetoric by the US and South Korea, which go so extremely frantic as to not be overlooked, undoubtedly provide (North Korea) with conditions for being forced to do something to cope with them,” she said.
Defense officials in South Korea said Tuesday that the B-52’s presence at the training on Monday was proof of the alliance’s ability to deter North Korean aggression. Earlier this year, the United States sent one or more of its long-range B-1B bombers to the peninsula on multiple occasions. The United States and South Korea held a drill in Washington, DC, last month to practice their response to a potential nuclear attack from North Korea.
The United States and South Korea announced last Friday that they would resume their largest springtime field exercises, which had not been held since 2018, and conduct computer-simulated command post training from March 13-23.
As a show of support for the deadlocked diplomacy with North Korea and as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic, the allies had cancelled or reduced some of their regular drills in 2018. But after North Korea conducted a record number of missile tests and openly threatened to use its nuclear weapons in potential conflicts with its rivals last year, they have been resuming their exercises.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a separate statement on Tuesday, calling the B-52 bomber’s flyover a reckless provocation that further entangles the peninsula in a “bottomless quagmire.” The statement, supposedly from the ministry’s foreign news office director, claimed that “there is no guarantee that there will be no violent physical conflict” if military tensions between the United States and South Korea persist.
At times of heightened animosity with the United States and South Korea, North Korea is known to release fiery rhetoric. Analysts speculate that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test or test a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental United States.
About a month ago, Kim Yo Jong threatened to make the Pacific Ocean a new northern firing range. She made the remarks on Tuesday, saying that Pyongyang would view any American attempt to shoot down a North Korean ICBM as an act of war. She referred to a media report from South Korea that claimed the United States military would shoot down a North Korean ICBM if it were test-fired over the Pacific.
All confirmed North Korean ICBM tests have been launched at extreme trajectories, with the resulting missiles splashing down in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
On Monday, South Korea took action that was widely interpreted as an attempt to improve security ties between the country, Japan, and the United States through trilateral cooperation among Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington. The next step is a plan to compensate Koreans who were forced into labor during Tokyo’s colonial rule using local funds, without requiring Japanese companies to make restitution.
On Monday, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel lauded South Korean and Japanese leaders for “realizing you have to deal with historic issues” and “coming to understand that potential of collaboration into the future is more important and have a greater value.”