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North Korean officials hit out against South’s missile comments

A man watches a television report showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Two officials of North Korea’s ruling party, including the sister of leader Kim Jong-Un, criticized South Korea’s defense minister for comments about his country’s missile capabilities.

The North Korean statements, issued through KCNA, claimed South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook had spoken of a “preemptive” attack on its neighbor. Suh had talked about the country’s capacity to “accurately and swiftly” strike targets in the North and to conduct precision strikes on the origin of any attack, Yonhap News Agency reported Friday, without mentioning preemptive strikes.

“He must be crazy or silly to speak of ‘preemptive attack’ on the nuclear weapons state,” said Pak Jong Chon, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

If South Korea attempts a preemptive strike, Pak added, “our army will mercilessly direct all its military force into destroying major targets in Seoul and the South Korean army.”

Kim Yo Jong, vice department director of the Central Committee and sister of the North Korean leader, called Suh a “senseless and scum-like guy” and “a confrontation maniac.”

Comments about a preemptive strike have further worsened inter-Korean relations and military tension in the peninsula and North Korea “will reconsider a lot of things concerning South Korea,” she said.

Suh’s remarks came after weeks of renewed tension with the North. Pyongyang has ramped up activity at key missile and nuclear weapons sites since signaling in January that it might end the testing freeze and last month launched a new, larger intercontinental ballistic missile.

South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol is scheduled to be inaugurated on May 10. During his campaign, Yoon pledged to scrap a military agreement between South Korea and North Korea and to restore joint U.S. military drills that had been cut or scaled back.

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