Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened the “complete destruction” of diplomatic relations between North Korea and South Korea following both countries testing ballistic missiles hours apart. Kim, in a statement carried by state media and cited by the Associated Press, blasted South Korean President Moon Jae-in for comments he made during the country’s first missile test. Moon said that South Korea’s increasing missile capabilities would be a “sure deterrence” against provocations from the North.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed North Korea’s missile tests, saying that they were looking into it. “Our military maintains a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the U.S.,” the JCS added in a statement.
Hours after North Korea’s tests of its missiles, South Korea initiated its own missile test from a 3,000-ton-class submarine, testing underwater-launched ballistic missiles. The Associated Press reports:
The South Korean and Japanese militaries said the two short-range ballistic missiles fired by North Korea flew 800 kilometers (500 miles) before landing in the sea inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone — a worrying development even though they did not reach Japanese territorial waters. The last time a North Korean missile landed inside that zone was in October 2019.
“South Korea would face many political and legal obstacles to develop nuclear weapons, both internal and external,” said Korea expert Ramon Pacheco Pardo, reports Reuters. “So it will develop all other capabilities to deter North Korea and show who the strongest Korea is.”
Following Moon’s comments, Kim Yo Jong hit out at South Korea’s leadership, saying it was inappropriate and argued that North Korea was developing its missiles for defence, and not for aggression.
“If the president joins in the slander and detraction (against us), this will be followed by counteractions, and the North-South relations will be pushed toward a complete destruction,” she said. “We do not want that.”
In response to the missile tests, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that “diplomatic engagement remains the only pathway to sustainable peace and complete, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” The U.N Security Council had prohibited Pyongyang from testing and developing ballistic missiles in the past, but the hermit nation has repeatedly violated the resolutions despite facing global sanctions.
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said that they were aware of the situation, but believed the tensions were not a threat to the United States, asserting that the U.S. sides with South Korea and Japan.
“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program,” the command said in a statement. “The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.”