The rosy outlook for the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and his counterparts leading the North Korean and South Korean governments met with a dark day today as North Korea’s state-controlled Central News Agency issued a rebuke of a joint military drill between the U.S. and South Korean air forces.
After several months of barbs and Twitter back-and-forth in which President Trump often held the upper hand, hitting Kim Jong-un with a fierce tweet after the North Korean leader issued multiple failed ballistic missile tests and provocative threats.
After a few more months of cyber-sparring with Kim Jong-un and other opponents, an unlikely peace deal was brokered, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in giving the American president credit for having spurred peace talks between North and South Korea merely a week later, according to the Washington Post. President Moon Jae-in and his Minister of Foreign Affairs would reiterate this sentiment in late April of this year, Fox News reports.
The honeymoon may be in jeopardy, however, according to the latest news on the matter. Combined air forces from the United States of America and the Republic of Korea participated in a joint exercise involving between 1,000 and 1,500 aircraft this past week in the second Max Thunder exercise. Last year’s Max Thunder wargames drew a pointed response from the DPRK in the form of yet another failed missile test.
“This exercise, targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” South Korean news agency Yonhap reports KCNA as saying.
“The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities.”
It is not unusual to see belligerent language offered up from North Korea’s state broadcasters, and it is uncertain whether this particular press release means much or means little. With peace talks on the table, an apparent escape for Kim Jong Un from a future filled with political dangers and an impoverished population, and the very real threat of force from a much stronger military might both across the border and across the Pacific, it seems quite unlikely that the North Korean leadership will consider deviating from the course set in the Panmunjom Declaration just a week or so prior. Recent reports from Reuters suggests that Kim Jong Un was well aware of South Korea’s intention to continue with this year’s Max Thunder exercises alongside U.S. military forces and, though nonplussed, neither formally accepted nor rejected the notion.
President Donald Trump has refused to comment publicly thus far.
Given the mercurial moods of the two world leaders – and their tumultuous relationship – it may be too soon to be singing praises of peace.