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Kim Jong Un's sister warns of 'destruction' of South Korean ties

'Destruction' of Korean ties

The powerful sister of North Korea's leader has criticized South Korean President Moon Jae-in and threatened a “complete destruction” of relations hours after Moon said South Korea’s growing missile capabilities will serve as a “sure deterrence" against North Korean provocations.

Moon made the comments after South Korea's first successful test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile. The test came hours after the South Korean and Japanese militaries said North Korea had fired two ballistic missiles into the sea.

In a statement released by state media on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, criticized Moon's description of the North Korean missile tests as a provocation, and warned of a “complete destruction” of bilateral relations if Moon continues with what she described as slander of North Korea.

North and South Korea tested ballistic missiles hours apart Wednesday in a display of military might that is sure to exacerbate tensions between the rivals at a time when talks aimed at stripping the North of its nuclear program are stalled.

The South Korean and Japanese militaries said North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles that flew 800 kilometres before landing in the sea inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone — a worrying development even though they did not reach Japan's territorial waters. The last time a North Korean missile landed inside that zone was October 2019.

The launches came two days after the North said it fired a newly developed cruise missile, its first weapons test in six months.

Hours after the North Korean launches Wednesday, South Korea’s presidential office said the country conducted its first submarine-launched ballistic missile test. It said the domestically built missile flew from a submarine and hit its designated target while President Moon Jae-in and other top officials looked on. It did not say how far it flew.

Moon said improvements in the country’s missile capabilities would serve as “a sure deterrence against North Korean provocation.”

Experts say the North Korea is building up its weapons systems to apply pressure on the United States in the hopes of winning relief from sanctions aimed at forcing the North to abandon its nuclear arsenal. U.S.-led talks on the issue have been stalled for more than two years — and in the meantime, tensions have been rising on the Korean Peninsula.

“North Korea is trying to communicate a message that things will not go as Washington wishes, if it doesn’t accept the North’s demands,” said Moon Seong Mook, an analyst with the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy. He said North Korea may think it has an opportunity now to win concessions from U.S. President Joe Biden's administration while it is embroiled in a domestic debate following the chaotic pullout from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, observers say Moon's government, which has been actively pursuing reconciliation with North Korea, may have taken action to appear tougher in response to criticism that it’s too soft on the North.

The rival nations are still technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War, which pitted the North and ally China against the South and U.S.-led U.N. forces, ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the launches “threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region and are absolutely outrageous.”



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