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Sister of North Korean leader denounces South’s drills as ‘suicidal hysteria’

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Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s powerful sister, labeled South Korea’s recent resumption of artillery drills near the border an act of “suicidal hysteria” in a statement released Monday.

South Korea’s live-fire artillery exercises along the country’s land and sea borders over the last two weeks were the first of their kind since they were halted following a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement to reduce tensions along the frontier.

Kim also referenced the national petition on the impeachment of President Yoon Suk Yeol, signed by over 1 million people. She hinted at the possibility of a North Korean attack on the South in what seemed to be an effort to incite internal conflict within South Korea and create a pretext for further provocations.

Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un [YONHAP]

“The question is why the enemy kicked off such war drills near the border, suicidal hysteria, for which they will have to sustain terrible disaster.” Kim said in a statement released through North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“I affirm that such an undisguised war game being staged by the enemy near the border of the DPRK is just an inexcusable and explicit provocation that aggravates the situation,” she said, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its full name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim highlighted the recent Freedom Edge, the first multi-domain joint military exercises involving South Korea, the United States and Japan, saying it “clearly showed that the U.S. and other hostile forces’ rash maneuvers for military hegemony in the region have crossed the red line.” The Freedom Edge featured advanced naval forces like the U.S. Navy’s 100,000-ton Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

She further noted that more than 1 million people signed a national petition demanding Yoon’s impeachment.

Kim accused Yoon of deliberately “destabilizing the regional situation and stirring up the warmongering atmosphere in the face of internal and external criticism of the war maniacs” and spearheading “the extremely dangerous live ammunition drill in the areas near the border” to “escape the worst ruling crisis.”

“Anyone cannot but acknowledge that the president, elected by people, has made the fate of [South Korea] hang by a thread,” Kim said.

She warned, “In case it is judged according to our criteria that [South Korea] violated the sovereignty of the DPRK and committed an act tantamount to a declaration of war, our armed forces will immediately carry out its mission and duty assigned by the DPRK Constitution.”

The South Korean government condemned Kim’s comments as interference in domestic affairs.

“It is very regrettable that North Korea is interfering in our internal affairs such as by criticizing our head of state,” said Koo Byoung-sam, spokesperson for the Ministry of Unification, during a press briefing Monday. “We want to make it clear once again that North Korea’s attempts to cause internal division in our society will never succeed.”

Kim Yo-jong’s statement was also published on the fourth page of the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party, which North Koreans widely read.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]