SEOUL – North Korea criticized Seoul on Sunday for what is described as the latter’s “aggressive” joint war drills with the United States and said that as long as the maneuvers continue to take place, it would remain difficult to conduct any dialogue between the two neighboring countries.
The North Korean regime thus resumed its tirade against the joint military exercises currently being carried out by the United States and South Korea in a foreign ministry statement published by the state-owned KCNA news agency.
“Given that the military exercise clearly puts us as an enemy in its concept, they should think that an inter-Korean contact itself will be difficult to be made unless they put an end to such a military exercise or before they make a plausible excuse or an explanation in a sincere manner for conducting the military exercise,” the ministry said.
The statement comes a day after the regime carried out fresh short-range ballistic missile tests from its eastern coast, the fifth of its kind within a fortnight.
The recent launches were overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who expressed “great satisfaction” and was pleased over the development of “another new weapon.”
The North Korean ministry’s statement justified these launches and even quoted statements made by US President Donald Trump recognizing a sovereign state’s right to self-defense, saying that they were small missile tests similar to those conducted by many countries.
Trump, after downplaying the previous missile tests by North Korea, said on Saturday that Kim Jong-un had “very nicely” offered him an apology for the weapons tests in a recent letter.
“It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises,” Trump tweeted. “It was also a small apology for testing the short-range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end.”
On Aug. 5, Seoul and Washington began three-week-long military exercises in South Korea. Though this year, they are being held on a smaller scale than on previous occasions – with an ostensible view to promoting dialogue and de-escalation in the Korean peninsula – North Korea has consistently and vehemently protested against them.