North Korea stated Tuesday that if South Korea attacks, it will retaliate with nuclear weapons, despite Kim Yo Jong, the strong sister of Pyongyang ruler Kim Jong Un, declaring that the totalitarian state does not want a war.
The warning, issued by the state propaganda outlet KCNA, came in response to statements made by South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook regarding possible preemptive strikes, which Kim Yo Jong dismissed as a “fantastic daydream” and “lunatic frenzy.”
Suh indicated Friday that South Korea’s military has “the ability to accurately and quickly hit any target in North Korea.”
The North Korean leader’s sister has alerted that if her nation avenges with nuclear force, it will leave their southern enemy’s military “little short of destruction and ruin.”
“If South Korea, for any reason—whether or not it is blinded by misjudgment—opts for such military action as ‘preemptive strike’ touted by [Suh], the situation will change,” Kim Yo Jong said. “In that case, South Korea itself will become a target.”
Kim first slammed the South Korean defense minister’s remarks on Sunday, warning that if the South undertook any “dangerous military action,” North Korea would strike key sites.
Some analysts believe Kim’s warning is directed at South Korean President-elect Yoon Su Yeol, who has advocated for stronger sanctions against North Korea.
Kim Yo Jong’s warning, carried in state media, was her second angry retort in three days to comments made by South Korea’s defense chief Suh Wook last week.
“Yoon’s ‘preemptive attack’ remark grabbed headlines a few months ago, and Pyongyang is adopting Suh’s remarks to point to the future South Korean administration,” Rachel Minyoung Lee, an analyst with the 38 North projects in the United States, told Reuters.
“North Korea has resisted attacking Yoon at any level of authority thus far, but it appears to be preparing the framework for it.”
The warning comes as concerns mount about North Korea’s latest long-range ballistic missile launches, which the White House described as “a flagrant violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions.”
Pyongyang said last week that it had successfully test-fired a Hwasong-17 missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear bombs and capable of striking the US mainland.
Soon after, South Korean military sources claimed that Seoul and Washington thought the missile was a Hwasong-15. This intercontinental ballistic missile can also target the United States and was tested in 2017.
The Biden administration blasted the recent missile launches, saying it “demonstrates that the DPRK [The democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name] continues to prioritize its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs over the well-being of its people.”
Despite the hyperbole, the White House maintains that Biden is willing to meet with Kim Jong Un “when there is a meaningful agreement on the table,” a senior US official phrased last month.
“Because, as we witnessed during the last administration, leader-level summits are no guarantee of progress,” the official continued. “The DPRK continues to be deafeningly silent.”