North Korea criticizes US-South Korean military drills, issues warning before allies meet

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SEOUL, South Korea — In North Korea’s first comments directed at the Biden administration, Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister criticized the United States and South Korea for holding military exercises and warned the U.S. against further provocations if it wants a “good night’s sleep for the next four years.”

Kim Yo Jong’s statement Tuesday was issued as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Asia to talk to U.S. allies Japan and South Korea about North Korea and other regional issues. They have meetings in Tokyo on Tuesday before speaking to officials in Seoul the next day.

North Korea would consider abandoning a 2018 bilateral agreement on reducing military tensions and abolish a decades-old ruling party unit tasked to handle inter-Korean relations if it no longer had to cooperate with the South, said Kim Yo Jong, a senior official who handles inter-Korean affairs for the North.

“We will keep an eye on (South Korea’s) attitude and behavior, and if they become more provocative, we could take exceptional measures,” she said in her statement published in Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to issue a word of advice to the new U.S. administration, which is so eager to give off a smell of gunpowder in our land from across the ocean,” she said. “If they want to have a good night’s sleep for the next four years, it would be good for them not to do things that would prevent them from sleeping properly from the start.”

In this March 2, 2019, file photo, Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un attends a wreath-laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Jorge Silva/Pool Photo via AP, File)

The South Korean and U.S militaries began annual military exercises last week that continue through Thursday. The drills are command post exercises and computerized simulation and don’t involve field training.

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They said they held the downsized drills after reviewing factors like the status of COVID-19 and diplomatic efforts to resume the nuclear talks with North Korea.

In the past, the North often called regular U.S.-South Korea drills an invasion rehearsal and responded with missile tests.

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