North Korea warns South of ‘baptism by fire’
Pyongyang is ready to respond with force to any “foolish miscalculation” by Seoul, Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has said.
On Friday, Seoul announced that it was evacuating Yeonpyeong Island after North Korea fired 200 artillery shells off the west coast. It said the projectiles landed in a maritime buffer zone established between the neighbors under a 2018 deal, from which Pyongyang later withdrew.
South Korea reacted to what it called a “crisis-escalating situation” by launching 400 shells of its own into the sea, in the same area. According to Seoul, it was followed by the North firing another 60 shells in the buffer zone on Saturday.
In her statement on Sunday, Kim Yo-jong, who is a senior figure in North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, denied the latest claim by the South. Pyongyang “didn’t fire even a single shell into the relevant waters” on Saturday, she insisted.
“We conducted a deceptive operation in order to assess the real detecting ability of the ROK (Republic of Korea) military gangsters,” the North Korean leader’s sister claimed.
Instead of firing shells, Pyongyang’s forces were “detonating blasting powder simulating the sound of 130mm coastal artillery for 60 times” in order to see how Seoul would react, she added.
Kim Yo-jong said that because of its “hysteria” and “arrogance” the South Korean military “had no choice but to swallow the bait we threw” and prove its incompetence. She recalled a saying that “a coward is frightened of his own shadow.”
The North Korean leader’s sister said she was “very pitiful” for the citizens of South Korea, who entrusted their security to “blind people.”
She warned Seoul against similar “misjudgement” in the future, arguing that the South is inviting “irretrievable misfortune” with its conduct.
“Let me make it clear: the safety locks on triggers of our military have been lifted… If there is even a slight provocation, our army will immediately launch a baptism by fire” for South Korea, Kim Yo-jong stated.
The current round of escalation between Pyongyang and Seoul followed live-fire drills by US and South Korean mechanized units near the border with the North, shortly before New Year. Pyongyang called the exercise “reckless war maneuvers” and promised to take countermeasures.