The South Korean Ministry of Unification said on Tuesday that ROK-U.S. joint military exercises should not create military tensions after Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, slammed the annual joint military drills in a statement, threatening to sever inter-Korean relations. The South Korean ruling Democratic Party of Korea said the statement by the vice department director of the Central Committee of the North Korean Workers’ Party was a message for dialogue.
It is the government’s consistent position that ROK-U.S. joint military exercises should not, in any case, trigger military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and, to this end, the South Korean government will deal with the issue in a wise and flexible manner, said an official from the Ministry of Unification on Tuesday. The official went on to say that the government’s stance remains unchanged that inter-Korean relations should be at an early date and denuclearization dialogue should be resumed as soon as possible, adding the government will continue its efforts for dialogue. When the opposition party denounced that the remarks by the Unification Ministry official shows Seoul’s submissive attitude towards Pyongyang, the ministry issued an additional statement that North Korea should not use joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. as an opportunity to escalate tensions. South Korea’s Unification Minister Lee In-young has been vocal about the need to postpone or scale down ROK-U.S. joint military drills.
North Korea, however, criticized the joint military drills themselves, which are being carried out in a scaled-down manner of computer-simulated command post exercise. Kim Yo Jong said North Korea has opposed the joint military drills targeting the compatriots and never argued about their scale or form. She added that the nature and the characteristics of the drills, which are preparations for a war of invasion targeting the compatriots, do not change whether it is 50 or 100 people that participate in them.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam said on Tuesday that the government remains unchanged in its position that inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea dialogues should be resumed at an early date so that progress can be made in efforts to achieve complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The S Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said it is closely watching the situation. An official from the ruling party said North Korea has always made threats before returning to the dialogue table, adding it is cooking up a scheme to start dialogues.
Oh-Hyuk Kwon firstname.lastname@example.org