Pre-emptive strike would trigger nuclear war: Kim's sister
North Korea would use nuclear weapons if South Korea launched a pre-emptive attack, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong-un threatened Tuesday.
It was her second comment in recent days about hawkish views emanating from Seoul about Pyongyang's growing arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
In the English-language version of her statement, carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim Yo-jong once again took aim at Seoul’s Defense Minister Suk Wook’s comments about South Korea’s ability to pre-emptively strike targets in North Korea if an attack was imminent — remarks she described as a “fantastic daydream” and the “hysteria of a lunatic.”
“In case [South Korea] opts for military confrontation with us, our nuclear combat force will have to inevitably carry out its duty … a dreadful attack will be launched and the [South Korean] army will have to face a miserable fate little short of total destruction and ruin,” Kim said.
But Kim said the North does not regard the South as its “primary enemy” or a target for attack, claiming that it does not view the South’s military as being on par with its own.
“We will not fire even a single bullet or shell toward south Korea," she was quoted as saying. "It is because we do not regard it as match for our armed forces.
"In other words, it means that unless the south Korean army takes any military action against our state, it will not be regarded as a target of our attack.”
The statement by Kim, who serves as deputy director of the Publicity and Information Department of the North's ruling Workers' Party, underlined the regime’s anger with the South Korean defense minister’s comments.
At a ceremony at the Strategic Missile Command in Wonju, Gangwon last Friday, Suh stressed that the South Korean military "possesses large numbers and various types of missiles that have greatly improved in terms of range, accuracy and power, and it has capabilities to accurately and swiftly strike any targets in North Korea."
The minister said Seoul's military could conduct precision strikes on the "origin of any attack and its command and support facilities."
Kim’ statement on Tuesday follows a Sunday press statement, also released by the KCNA, in which she called Suh a “senseless and scum-like guy” for mentioning the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on the North Korean regime.
In that earlier statement, Kim said that “South Korea may face a serious threat owing to the reckless remarks made by its Defence Minister.
“South Korea should discipline itself if it wants to stave off disaster,” Kim said.
Kim’s remarks warning South Korea of the consequences of carrying out a pre-emptive strike comes one month more before power is handed from President Moon Jae-in — who held multiple summits with Kim Jong-un and sought an end-of-war declaration to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula — to President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, a conservative who signaled a harder stance on the campaign trail with an emphasis on "peace through strength."
While Seoul has long maintained it has a pre-emptive attack strategy in case the North prepares to use its growing arsenal of missiles and nuclear weapons, it was unusual for a senior Seoul official under the conciliatory Moon administration to publicly discuss such a plan.
Kim’s statements could be interpreted as a warning to Yoon, who during his presidential campaign mentioned the possibility of carrying out a pre-emptive strike on the North.
Tensions have risen on the Korean Peninsula as the North conducted a spate of 12 missile tests since early January, with three launches on Feb. 27, March 5 and March 16 believed by U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials to be tests of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.
After the March 16 test ended in failure — with the missile exploding over Pyongyang after only reaching an altitude of 20 kilometers (12 miles) — the North on March 24 carried out a test of an ICBM it claimed was the new Hwasong-17, which U.S. and South Korean officials now believe was an older Hwasong-15 missile modified to far farther.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]