August 10, 2021

By Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said South Korea and the United States are risking a “huge security crisis” by choosing to escalate tensions, North Korea state media reported on Wednesday citing a top Workers’ Party official.

Kim Yong Chol, a general and politician who played a leading role during historic summits between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former U.S. President Donald Trump, criticised South Korea and the United States for responding to Pyongyang’s goodwill with “hostile acts”.

The statement comes a day after Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, warned Seoul and Washington over annual joint military drills set to begin this week.

North Korea did not answer routine calls on inter-Korean hotlines on Tuesday, South Korea said.

On Wednesday, Kim Yong Chol singled out South Korea for going ahead with the drills with the United States, and said North Korea will “make clear of the cost they should pay” for choosing their alliance with Washington over peace between the Koreas.

“We will have them realize what a dangerous choice they made and how close they are to a huge security crisis by making the wrong choice,” he said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith; Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Pullin)