ARCHIVES – Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean ruler Jong Un. Photo: Jorge Silva/Pool Reuters/AP/dpa
Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, said Sunday that she considers such exercises as “unwelcome foreplay” that would undermine the will of South and North Korean leaders to restore mutual trust. It would also “cast a shadow on the way forward in inter-Korean relations,” state media quoted her as saying.
Kim’s statement saw an attempt in South Korea to pressure Seoul to cancel the military exercises. Kim referred to the summer exercises that the allied forces of the United States and South Korea usually start in August. The communist leadership in Pyongyang sees such maneuvers as a preparation for an attack – an accusation Washington and Seoul deny.
According to South Korea, it is currently unclear when and to what extent the summer exercise could take place this year. Seoul fears the exercises will interfere with efforts to renegotiate with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program. In recent years, the United States and South Korea have already reduced some exercises for diplomatic reasons as well.
After a long radio silence, South and North Korea reopened their official communication links last Tuesday. According to both sides, the agreement was based on the exchange of messages between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in since April.
Kim’s sister made it clear that opening the lines of communication should not be understood as anything other than “re-establishing physical contact”. The speculation arising from a new inter-Korean summit is premature.
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