North Korea Says U.S. Faces ‘Merciless Revenge’ Over Drills

  • Misjudgment to think DPRK will sit and do nothing, KCNA Says
  • Yonhap reports Kim visited guard post 1 kilometer from border

Is North Korea's 'Supreme Leader' Kim Jong Un really as crazy as the U.S. and its allies make him out to be? In this Bloomberg Profiles, we look at the third ruling autocrat in North Korea's 'Kim Dynasty'. (video by Robin Fall) (Source: Bloomberg)

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North Korea threatened the U.S. on Tuesday, saying it will face “merciless revenge” for ignoring Pyongyang’s warnings over annual military drills with South Korea.

The isolated nation said it would be a misjudgment for the U.S. to think that North Korea will “sit comfortably without doing anything,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said, citing an unidentified military spokesman. The ongoing drills and visits of U.S. military officials to South Korea create the circumstances for a “mock war” on the Korean peninsula, KCNA said.

The comments represent a more belligerent tone after a war of words between the U.S. and North Korea appeared to have subsided. U.S. President Donald Trump praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week for waiting to launch missiles over Japan into waters near Guam, after previously warning of “fire and fury” if he continued to threaten the American homeland.

U.S. Pacific Command chief Harry Harris on Tuesday defended the drills while calling for a diplomatic solution to the North Korea crisis. He said the military needed to be ready for all scenarios, and added that the U.S. has “complete confidence” in its ability to “destroy any missiles that come into our area.”

“We hope for a diplomatic solution to the challenge presented by Kim Jong Un,” Harris told reporters at the Osan Air Base, south of Seoul. “A strong diplomatic effort backed by a strong military effort is key because credible combat power should be a support to diplomacy and not the other way round.”

Maps on how a second Korean war could quickly spread across Asia

Tensions increased in July after North Korea conducted two intercontinental ballistic missile tests. Trump has said military force is an option to prevent Kim from gaining an ICBM that could deliver a nuclear weapon to the U.S.

On Monday, South Korea President Moon Jae-in said North Korea shouldn’t use the latest round of drills as an excuse for any further provocations. The exercises “are not aimed at raising military tensions on the Korean peninsula at all,” Moon told Cabinet members.

Kim made a visit in early August to a guard post about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the border with the South, Yonhap News reported, citing unidentified South Korean government officials. The South Korean military considers the visit an unusual act and is preparing to prevent a possible military provocation, Yonhap said.

Kim’s regime also unveiled a video of its threat to fire missiles near the U.S. territory of Guam, Yonhap reported.

The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian military drills routinely spark condemnation from North Korea. During last year’s drills, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine and put its military on the highest alert.

The exercise is a computerized command-and-control simulation, said a spokeswoman for U.S. Forces in Korea. It will be of similar size to last year’s event with no field training, she said.

About 17,500 U.S. service members are taking part, down from 25,000 last year. Defense Secretary James Mattis said the reduction in numbers simply reflects a need for fewer personnel, and hasn’t been scaled back in response to tensions with North Korea.

The U.S. should never forget that North Korea is watching its moves closely with “fingers on triggers, ready to pour a fire shower of penalties at any time,” according to KCNA.

— With assistance by Seyoon Kim, and Heejin Kim

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