The sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo-jong has claimed that the country’s nuclear forces could “annihilate” the South Korean military if it was to launch a preemptive strike against the regime.
The comments come after South Korea’s Defense Minister Suh Wook said his country's military has missiles that could “accurately and quickly hit any target” in North Korea.
Kim Yo-jong, a senior official in the North Korean government said that it was a “very big mistake” of the minister of defense to make the remark.
According to state media reports, Kim Yo-jong said, “In case South Korea opts for military confrontation with us, our nuclear combat force will have to inevitably carry out its duty,” adding that any South Korean aggression would warrant an “inevitable” nuclear response from the DPRK.
Kim Yo-jong previously issued a statement on Sunday slamming Suh Wook, whom she called a “scum-like guy” for suggesting an attack from South Korea.
She further added that North Korea does not seek a war with its southern neighbor and would not fire first, but would respond aggressively if attacked, but dismissed South Korea’s assertions it was capable of reaching North Korean missile bases as a “wild dream.”
“But if South Korea, for any reason — whether or not it is blinded by misjudgment — opts for such military action as the 'preemptive strike' touted by [Suh Wook], the situation will change,” Kim Yo-jong promised.
“In that case, South Korea itself will become a target,” she added.
Both North and South Korea have displayed their military strengths this year, with North Korea test-firing a range of powerful missiles.
Rachel Minyoung Lee, an analyst with the US-based 38 North project, said that Kim Yo-jong’s comments may be aimed at South Korea’s incoming president, Yoon Suk-yeol, who called for bolstering defense against North Korea.
“North Korea has thus far refrained from criticizing Yoon at an authoritative level, but it certainly seems to be laying the groundwork for it,” Lee said, Sky News reported.