North Korea has condemned South Korea's push to impose more sanctions on Pyongyang, warning Seoul that such measures will only fuel more hostility.
On Thursday, Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, lashed out at the administration of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol for seeking more independent sanctions on the North.
In a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim's sister branded Yoon and his cabinet a "faithful dog" to the United States and called them a bunch of "idiots" who are parroting Washington, warning that such punitive measures and pressure against Pyongyang would add to the North's "hostility and anger."
"As soon as the US talked about its 'independent sanctions' against the DPRK, South Korea parroted what the former said," Kim Yo-jong said in the English-language statement, using an abbreviation for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"This disgusting act shows more clearly that the South Korean group is a 'faithful dog' and stooge of the US," she further said, adding, "If they think that they can escape from the present dangerous situation through 'sanctions,' they must be really idiots as they do not know how to live in peace and comfort."
Kim Yo-jong also described Seoul as a "running wild dog on a bone given by the US" and a "servant" attached to its "master."
Her remarks came just two days after South Korea's Foreign Ministry said it was reviewing "independent" punitive measures against North Korea, noting that sanctions on the cyber sector were among those considered if Pyongyang pushes ahead with a nuclear test.
A few hours after Kim Yo-jong's strongly-worded statement on Thursday, South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, responded in a statement, slamming her comments targeting the South Korean president as "deplorable."
"We express a strong regret over (the North's) attitude attempting to shift the blame on us... when the current tension on the Korean Peninsula was caused by North Korea's repeated missile provocations," it said.
The development comes as Washington has called on the UNSC to hold North Korea accountable for its missile tests in one voice, as the 15-member body has been split on how to deal with Pyongyang in recent years.
Nuclear-armed North Korea has tested a record number of missiles this year, and officials in Seoul and Washington say the North has completed technical preparations to conduct a nuclear weapon test for the first time since 2017.
Washington and Seoul have markedly stepped up their muscle-flexing near the North's maritime border and airspace to deter another nuclear test by Pyongyang.
North Korea considers the foreign drills near its territory to be exercises for invasion. The country is under harsh sanctions by the US and UNSC over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.