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North Korea

‘You will engulf the land in flames’: Kim Jong-un’s history of attacking US-South Korean military drills

The North Korean leader’s threat to cancel peace talks with Donald Trump follows a series of outbursts denouncing the joint military training exercises

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 8:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2018, 10:21am

North Korea on Wednesday threatened to call off the upcoming meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump over an ongoing military exercise between South Korea and the US.

Kim has consistently called for an end to joint military drills as a critical precondition to fruitful dialogue.

In recent months, however, Kim appeared to take a more consolatory stance after the drills briefly ceased in the run-up to last month’s historic meeting between North and South Korea.

Here is what he has said about the drills between South Korea and the US over the past.

March 2018

Kim said that he “understood the South’s stance” when a South Korean envoy to Pyongyang told the North Korean leader that joint military drills planned for the following month would be hard to postpone again after they were briefly halted for the Winter Olympics in February.

Kim added that he expected readjustments once the security situation on the Korean peninsula stabilises, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

January 2018

During his annual New Year’s address, Kim called on the South to “discontinue all the nuclear war drills they stage with outside forces as these drills will engulf this land in flames and lead to bloodshed on our sacred territory”.

August 2017

Kim warned the US not to “persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean peninsula”, referring to the joint military drill “Ulchi Freedom Guardian”. Kim vowed to “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees”, during the drills, though he made no further comment when drills occurred.

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January 2017

Kim’s New Year’s address called on the South Korean authorities to stop their “war games at our doorstep” and “disguising them as annual events”.

June 2016

Kim called on the South to “put a complete stop to the reckless political and military provocations and war drills that they launch” while addressing the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Kim accused the South of “toeing the US line” adding that the drills were “targeted against fellow countrymen and pose a threat to peace and security on the Korean peninsula”.

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January 2015

Kim called the annual drills the “cause of the escalating tension on the peninsula”. His New Year message went on to warn that “there can be neither trustworthy dialogue nor improved inter-Korean relations in such a gruesome atmosphere in which war drills are staged against the dialogue partner”.