On Tuesday, Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader’s sister, criticized ongoing military exercises in South Korea and cautioned the new U.S. administration against “causing a stink” if it wants peace, according to state news.

The announcement comes only a day before the United States’ top diplomat and defense chief arrive in Seoul for their first meetings with their South Korean counterparts.

In a statement carried by state news agency KCNA, Kim said, “We take this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land.” “If it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are in Asia this week for talks with allies in Japan and South Korea, among other places.

According to Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Korea expert at King’s College London, the timing of Kim’s remarks appears to be intended to ensure that North Korea is at the top of Blinken and Austin’s agenda when they arrive in Seoul.

“Until now, the discussion was focusing on The Quad, dealing with China and the North Korea policy review,” he said. “Now, Kim’s statement will be central to discussions.”

Last week, South Korean and American troops started a joint springtime military exercise, which was limited to computer simulations due to the possibility of coronavirus and continuing attempts to communicate with the North.

Kim Yo Jong, an outspoken critic of Seoul in state media dispatches, said, “War drills and hostility can never go with dialogue and cooperation.”

She mocked South Korea for “resorting to shrunken war games, now that they find themselves in the quagmire of political, economic and epidemic crisis.”

Inter-Korean engagement, which strengthened in 2018 and is pursued by South Korea, “won’t come easily again,” she said, adding that North Korea will be watching for more provocations.

According to Kim, North Korea is considering withdrawing from an inter-Korean military agreement aimed at reducing tensions along their shared border and is considering disbanding many organizations aimed at cooperation with the South.

According to Jenny Town, director of 38 North, a U.S.-based website that monitors North Korea, Kim Yo Jong’s comment, as colorful as it is, is generally consistent with previous North Korean statements voicing frustrations about inequalities between words and behavior.

“How despite the agreements in place, positive actions, especially on the inter-Korean agenda, have been too few while actions that reinforce the ‘old’ adversarial relationship persist,” she said.

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