Kim Jong Un's sister threatens S. Korea with military action
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's powerful sister threatened to launch military action against South Korea on Saturday after seizing Seoul due to declining bilateral relations and his inability to prevent activists from floating flyers against Pyongyang across the border, beaten up.
Kim Yo Jong described South Korea as an "enemy" and repeated a previous threat she made by saying Seoul would soon witness the collapse of a "useless" Inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong.
Kim, the first deputy head of the ruling Labor Party central committee, said she would leave it up to North Korean military leaders to take the next step in retaliation against the south.
"By exercising my authority authorized by the Supreme Leader, our party and the state, I instructed the poor in the department responsible for matters involving the enemy to take the next action with determination," she said in a statement from the official Korean central news agency of the north.
"If I drop a reference to our next plan, which the (South Korean) authorities are concerned about, the right to take the next action against the enemy will be entrusted to the general staff of our army," she said. "Our army will also determine something to cool our people's resentment and carry it out safely, I believe."
Kim's harsh rhetoric shows her elevated status in North Korea's leadership. The state media, already considered the country's most powerful woman and closest brother to her brother, recently confirmed that she is now responsible for relations with South Korea.
The Kaesong Liaison Office, which has been closed since January due to concerns about the corona virus, was set up following one of the key agreements reached at three summits between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in 2018.
The Moon government had worked hard to set up nuclear summits between Kim and President Donald Trump, which have met three times since 2018. At the same time, Moon also worked to improve relations between Korea.
But North Korea has stopped practically all cooperation with the South in recent months, while expressing its frustration at the lack of progress in the nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
Last week, the North said it would cut off all government and military communications channels with the South, threatening to abandon important intra-Korean peace deals that its leaders had achieved in 2018.
This includes a military agreement in which the Koreans have undertaken to jointly take measures to reduce conventional military threats, such as setting up border buffers and no-fly zones. They also removed some guards on the front and jointly examined a waterway near their western border in an unrealized plan to allow freer civil navigation.
In a previous statement earlier last week, Kim Yo Jong said that the north would delete the "barely valuable" military agreement, while he referred to North Korean defectors who sent leaflets from the south as "human scum" and "mongrel dogs" .
Their comments on Saturday came hours after a senior official from the North Korean State Department said that Seoul should end "nonsensical" talks about the denuclearization of the north and that his country would continue to develop its military capabilities to counter what it sees as a threat to the Perceives United States.
In response to North Korea's anger over the leaflets, the South Korean government has announced that it will bring charges against two defector groups who have carried out border protests.
The south also said it would push new laws to ban activists from flying leaflets across the border, but criticism has been voiced for whether the Moon government sacrifices democratic principles to maintain its ambitions for inter-Korean engagement.
For years, activists have been flying giant balloons with leaflets to North Korea criticizing Kim Jong Un for his nuclear ambitions and bleak human rights record. The leaflet has sometimes sparked an angry reaction from North Korea, which resists any attempt to undermine its leadership.
While Seoul sometimes sent police officers to block the activists in sensitive times, it had previously opposed North Korea's demands to ban them completely, claiming that they would exercise their freedom. Activists vowed to continue launching the balloon.
However, according to analysts, North Korea's war is unlikely to be about leaflets.
The North has a long history of putting pressure on the South if it doesn't get what it wants from the United States. The threat to abandon inter-Korean agreements came after months of frustration over Seoul's refusal to oppose US-led sanctions and resume joint economic projects.
Some experts say North Korea, which has mobilized people for massive demonstrators to condemn defectors, is deliberately blaming the south for gathering publicity and averting attention from a poor economy that has likely deteriorated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is unclear what military measures the north would take against the south, although weapon tests are a simple guess. Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at the Far Eastern Studies Institute in Seoul, said North Korea could also "plan something" near the country's controversial western maritime border, which has occasionally been the scene of bloody clashes over the years.
At the second Kim Jong Un summit with Trump in Vietnam last February, nuclear talks stalled after the US rejected North Korea's calls for significant sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
Trump and Kim met for the third time on the border between North and South Korea in June this year and agreed to resume the talks. However, a working-level meeting in Sweden in October focused on what the North Koreans described as the "old attitude and attitude" of the Americans.
On the two-year anniversary of the first Kim Trump meeting, North Korean foreign minister Ri Son Gwon said on Friday that the north would never again give Trump top-class meetings that he could boast of as foreign policy achievements if he didn't get anything essential.
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