North Korea’s top negotiator called South Korea’s government “ignorant and incompetent” on May 17, 2018, in the latest installment of Pyongyang lashing out at the US and Seoul for essentially carrying out business as usual.
Ri Son Gwon, the North Korean negotiator, slammed South Korea for participating in military drills with the US, following up a series of statements on May 15, 2018, when Pyongyang canceled talks with Seoul and threatened to cancel a planned summit with President Donald Trump.
While North Korea commonly complains about US and South Korean military drills, which it sees as a rehearsal for invasion, the timing of the recent complaints struck many as odd.
The drills in question, called Max Thunder, have been going on since May 11, 2018. North Korea endured four solid days of the drills before saying anything about them. In fact, one day into the drills, North Korea announced it would invite foreign journalists to cover the destruction of its nuclear test site.
But on May 15, 2018, that all changed with North Korea slamming the drills and their inclusion of the US’s B-52 nuclear-capable bomber, something which regional media had reported. The Pentagon told Business Insider that the B-52s were never scheduled to take part in the drills.
(Photo by Michael Weber)
Before Max Thunder, two other massive drills had taken place in April and May 2018, with hardly a peep from Pyongyang.
In past months, Kim, who reportedly said he “understands” why the drills were going on, had gone forward with peace talks without asking for them to be toned down.
Nevertheless, North Korea cited the drills as its main reason for canceling talks with South Korea.
“Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the north-south high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of South Korea,” Ri said, according to Reuters.
In a separate statement from North Korean media, Pyongyang said it couldn’t open up its country or work with others.
“It is a lesson shown by the past history that it would never be possible to write a new history of opening up the prospect of the country and nation even though we may sit with those without trust and confidence and without manners,” it wrote.
Kim, what are you doing?
Kim Jong Un began and led his country toward peace and diplomacy with South Korea and the US beginning in his 2018 New Years’ address. Since then, he’s put on a spectacular diplomatic offensive and made history by leaving his country for the first time since taking power to meet at least twice with China’s President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
But since May 15, 2018, North Korea has begun a marked backslide towards the old rhetoric of hostilities, and it all kicked off with a meltdown over days-old military drills.
As for why North Korea may have went back to tough talking points, read here.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.