(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more remarks, military's statement; ADDS photo, byline)
By Yi Won-ju
SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un lambasted South Korea's defense chief for talk of "preemptive strike" capabilities and warned that the South may face a "serious threat" for such a "senseless" remark, according to Pyongyang's state media Sunday.
In her rare press statement issued the previous day, Kim Yo-jong called South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook a "senseless and scum-like guy" for mentioning a preemptive strike at a "nuclear weapons state."
Last Friday, Suh publicly stressed that his troops have the capabilities to "accurately and swiftly" strike the origin of North Korea's missile firing as well as command and support facilities in the case of clear signs of a launch toward the South.
"South Korea may face a serious threat owing to the reckless remarks made by its Defence Minister," Kim said in the English-language statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
She is known for her influence on inter-Korean affairs in the Kim regime, holding the post of vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK).
Kim described her message as a "warning upon authorization," suggesting that it was endorsed by her brother.
"As long as the South Korean military revealed its intent to seek provocative incentive of serious level and escalate a showdown with the DPRK, I will give a serious warning upon authorization," Kim said, using the acronym for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
She added that Pyongyang will "reconsider a lot of things concerning South Korea."
The strongly worded statement against South Korea came as it is preparing for a power transition. President Moon Jae-in, who has sought hard to improve Seoul-Pyongyang ties, is ending his five-year term next month, with the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol elected as his successor. Yoon has hinted at a tougher stance toward the North.
Pak Jong-chon, the North's top military official, also warned in a separate statement that Pyongyang will destroy any target in the South in case of a preemptive strike.
"If the South Korean army engages in a dangerous military action as a preemptive strike against the DPRK, being guided by misjudgment, our army will mercilessly direct all its military force into destroying major targets in Seoul and the South Korean army," he said.
Pak, secretary of the Central Committee of the WPK, pointed out that the two Koreas are still technically at war. The 1950-53 Korean War finished in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
"Any slight misjudgment and ill statement rattling the other party" under the current military tension may trigger off a dangerous conflict and a full-blown war, he emphasized.
Biden's trip highlights commitment to stronger alliance, hope for S. Korea's pivotal role in security: experts
N. Korean leader Kim ramps up nuclear threat, alludes to more aggressive doctrine
ICBM launch puts Yoon's N. Korea policy to test
Concerns grow over possible North Korean nuke test
N. Korea fiddling with ICBM card to pressure U.S. to ease sanctions: experts