The annual US-South Korean military drills have been scaled back and are now almost entirely computer simulations—but Pyongyang is still furious. Kim Yo Jong, sister of dictator Kim Jong Un, described the exercises as "perfidious behavior" that will cause the US and South Korea to face a "more serious security threat," the AP reports. Hours after the statement was issued Tuesday, officials in South Korea said the North had failed to respond to calls on inter-Korea hotlines, which were cut off in June 2020 but restored a few weeks ago, reports the BBC. The two countries normally contact each other twice a day on the hotlines.
Officials say the American and South Korean militaries began four days of preliminary training Tuesday ahead of the Aug. 16-26 computer-simulated drills. In her statement, Kim, who had earlier demanded the cancellation of the exercises, said the drills are "the most vivid expression of the US hostile policy" toward North Korea and warned that a "dear price should be paid." Asan Institute analyst Go Myong-hyun tells the Wall Street Journal that Pyongyang is now likely to blame the Biden administration for the breakdown in dialogue. "North Korea will respond to the joint military exercises with provocations, likely with missile launches as it has done in the past," Go predicts. (Read more North Korea stories.)