North Korea warned the top American commander in South Korea yesterday of "miserable destruction" if the United States (US) military presses ahead with routine joint drills with South Korea set to begin next month.
Pak Rim Su, chief of North Korea's military delegation to the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarised Zone, sent the warning yesterday morning to General James Thurman in a rare direct message to the US commander.
"You had better bear in mind that those igniting a war are destined to meet a miserable destruction," Pak was quoted as saying in his message to Thurman. He called the drills "reckless."
The threat comes as the US and other nations discuss how to punish North Korea for conducting an underground nuclear test on February 12 in defiance of United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions banning Pyongyang from nuclear and missile activity.
North Korea has characterised the nuclear test, its third since 2006, as a defensive act against US aggression.
Pyongyang accuses Washington of "hostility" for leading the charge to punish North Korea for a December rocket launch that the US considers a covert missile test.
The US and North Korea fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953, not a peace treaty, and left the Korean Peninsula divided by a heavily fortified border monitored by the US-led UN Command.
Washington also stations 28,500 American troops in South Korea to protect its ally against North Korean aggression.