North Korea warns US to ‘hold its tongue’ over inter-Korean ties

State media reports foreign ministry criticising US and threatening election over comments on decision to cut hotline.

North Korea
North Korea is angry at the activists, mostly defectors, in South Korea who send leaflets across the border by balloon. It has cut the hotline between the two countries and state television has shown protests of workers and trade union members [KCNA via Reuters]

North Korea said on Thursday the United States has no standing to comment on inter-Korean affairs, and it is in Washington’s interest to stay quiet if it wants the upcoming presidential election to go smoothly, state media reported.

The statement comes after the US State Department said it was disappointed at North Korea for suspending communication hotlines with South Korea on Tuesday.

“If the US pokes its nose into others’ affairs with careless remarks, far from minding its internal affairs, at a time when its political situation is in the worst-ever confusion, it may encounter an unpleasant thing hard to deal with,” Kwon Jong Gun, director-general for US affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said in comments carried by state news agency KCNA.

Threats to election

The United States should “hold its tongue” and address its own domestic problems unless it wants to “experience a hair-raiser”, he said.

“It would be good not only for the US interests, but also for the easy holding of upcoming presidential election.”

It is unclear what North Korea would do to disrupt the election or cause problems for US President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, said James Kim, a research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

“If anything, there’s a chance that provocation may even rally the country around the incumbent,” he said.

After a series of historic summits in 2018 and 2019 between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, little progress has been made in dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, and Pyongyang has expressed increasing frustration with Washington’s refusal to ease sanctions.

North Korea said on Tuesday that it would cut its hotlines with South Korea after days of lashing out at Seoul for not stopping defectors from sending leaflets and other material into North Korea.

On Wednesday, South Korea said it would take legal action against two organisations that conduct such operations.

Source: Reuters