On Tuesday, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued a statement through the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) warning the United States and South Korea against taking military action against Pyongyang’s weapon tests. She also suggested that the North could launch additional missiles into the Pacific Ocean as a response to joint military exercises by the US and its regional allies, stating that “The Pacific Ocean does not belong to the dominium of the US or Japan.”
Last month, Kim Yo Jong had warned that Pyongyang might increase its military activities in response to the increased presence of the US’ strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula. In her latest statement, she reiterated similar comments and hinted that the North could continue firing missiles into the Pacific Ocean depending on the actions of US forces. “The frequency of using the Pacific as our firing range depends upon the character of the US forces’ actions,” she added.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry accused the United States and South Korea of worsening the situation on the Korean Peninsula due to recent aerial military exercises. The joint drills, which took place last month, included South Korea’s F-35A, F-15K, and US F-16 fighters accompanying American B-1B bombers to demonstrate the readiness of the two countries’ defense capabilities.
Several missile launches were conducted by North Korea over the past month, with the timings coinciding with the aerial war games.
North Korea confirmed that it had conducted an “intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch” just before the drills, to test the combat readiness of its missile force for counterattack. Later, the country said it had fired at least two ballistic missiles.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry’s Foreign News Section criticized the upcoming military exercises between the US and South Korea in a statement released on Tuesday.
The joint exercises, which will include amphibious landings and last for over 10 days, are intended to enhance the allies’ defense and response capabilities, with a focus on changes in the security environment and lessons learned from recent conflicts, according to a briefing by the two countries last Friday.
While the US and South Korea argue that the drills are defensive, North Korea views them as a rehearsal for an invasion of its territory.