North Korea has again threatened to withdraw from planned talks with South Korea unless Seoul stops an ongoing military exercise with the US. This has also cast a shadow over the upcoming summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump which might now be cancelled by the North-Korean dictator. This appears to be more back-peddling by the North Korean leader who is blaming US demands in relation to the unilateral de-nuclearisation of the North.
The warning came hours after North Korea called off high-level talks with South Korea indefinitely in protest of the joint air exercises between the South and the United States. Although the North had previously “consented” to the exercises, it has frequently denounced these as a rehearsal for invasion.
Ri Son-gwon, a North Korean official handling inter-Korea affairs, also took issue with a prominent North Korean defector’s recent critical comments. Thae Yong-ho, a former London-based North Korean diplomat who defected to South Korea with his family in 2016, expressed scepticism on Monday in parliament about the prospects of the North ever abandoning its nuclear weapons. Thae also held a ceremony at the National Assembly to celebrate the release of his memoir, which is critical of Kim Jong-un.
Ri condemned Thae as “human scum” and accused South Korea of letting Thae hurt the North Korean leader.
“Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the north-south high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of South Korea,” Ri said in comments carried by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met last month at the truce village of Panmunjom, where they agreed to halt all hostile acts against each other, open a joint liaison office in the North’s border city of Kaesong and pursue various economic cooperation efforts. South Korea has said it will continue to urge North Korea to come forward for talks to discuss follow-up measures to the recent summit agreement.