Kim Jong Un’s sister warns of ‘complete destruction’ of South Korean ties

Kim Yo Jong criticised the South Korean president for describing North Korean weapons demonstrations as a provocation.

Kim Jong Un’s sister warns of ‘complete destruction’ of South Korean ties

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has criticised South Korea’s president and threatened a “complete destruction” of bilateral relations after both countries tested ballistic missiles just hours apart.

The missile launches underscored a return to tensions between the rivals at a time when talks aimed at stripping North Korea of its nuclear programme have stalled.

Mr Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, criticised South Korean president Moon Jae-in for comments he made while observing his country’s missile tests, including its first of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

People watch a TV screen showing a news report about North Korea's missiles
People watch a TV screen showing a news report about North Korea’s missiles (Lee Jin-man/AP)

The tests came hours after the South Korean and Japanese militaries said North Korea had fired two ballistic missiles into the sea.

In a statement broadcast by state media, Ms Kim berated Mr Moon for describing North Korean weapons demonstrations as a provocation, and warned of a “complete destruction” of bilateral relations if he continued with what she described as slander of North Korea.

She said North Korea was developing its military capabilities for self-defence without targeting a specific country, and that South Korea was also increasing its military capabilities.

Japan Koreas Tensions
A TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (Koji Sasahara/AP)

“If the president joins in the slander and detraction (against us), this will be followed by counter actions, and the North/South relations will be pushed toward a complete destruction,” she said.

“We do not want that.”

The South Korean and Japanese militaries said the two short-range ballistic missiles fired by North Korea flew 500 miles (800km) before landing in the sea inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone — a worrying development even though they did not reach Japanese territorial waters. The last time a North Korean missile landed inside that zone was in October 2019.

Koreas Tensions
A South Korean news report about North Korea’s missiles (Lee Jin-man/AP)

Hours after the latest North Korean launches, South Korea reported its first test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

As Mr Moon and other top officials looked on, the missile flew from a submarine and hit a designated target, the president’s office said.

Experts say North Korea is building up its weapons systems to apply pressure on the United States in hopes of winning relief from economic sanctions aimed at forcing the North to abandon its nuclear arsenal.

US-led talks on the issue have been stalled for more than two years.

Yoshihide Suga
Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga condemned the North Korean launches as ‘outrageous’ (Kim Kyung-Hoon/AP)

The analyst said North Korea might think it has an opportunity to win concessions from US president Joe Biden’s administration while it is embroiled in a domestic debate following the chaotic pull-out from Afghanistan.

Observers say Mr Moon’s government, which has been actively pursuing reconciliation with North Korea, may have taken action to appear tougher in response to criticism that it is too soft on the North.

The rival nations are still technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War, which pitted the North and ally China against the South and US-led UN forces, ended in an armistice, rather than a peace treaty.

Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga said the launches “threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region and are absolutely outrageous”.

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