N. Korean threatens to respond to force with force against US 2nd highest-ranking military official addresses remarks by Trump during NATO summit

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An image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ascending Mt. Baektu on horseback with Pak Jong-chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, and other military leaders published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Dec. 4. (Yonhap News)

After US President Donald Trump said the US would use military force against North Korea if necessary, the number-two figure in the North Korean military warned that Pyongyang would respond to force with force.The warning was made on Dec.

4 by Pak Jong-chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, a rank equivalent to South Korea’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.“I clearly state here that if the US uses any armed forces against the DPRK [North Korea], we will also take prompt corresponding actions at any level,” Pak said in a statement released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Wednesday evening.

Pak’s statement came in response to comments that Trump made during a press conference on Dec. 3, while he was in London to attend a NATO summit. “Hopefully, we don’t have to use [military force], but if we do, we’ll use it,” Trump said.“I heard that the US president made undesirable remarks about the DPRK on Dec. 3 during the NATO summit in Britain.

The Supreme Commander of our armed forces was also displeased to hear it,” Pak said. The supreme commander of North Korea’s armed forces is the country’s leader, State Affairs Commission Chairman Kim Jong-un.“I think the only guarantee that deters physical conflict from flaring up in relations between the DPRK and the US despite such a dangerous military stand-off is the close relations between the top leaders,” Pak said.

“But recently the US president said that he may use armed forces in clear reference to the DPRK, even though he attached preconditions. This greatly disappointed me.”Warning about potential damage to “top-down” diplomacy between Kim and TrumpPak’s remarks represent a warning about potential damage to the “top-down” diplomacy and cordial relations between Kim and Trump that have thus far propped up the two countries’ negotiations.

“The DPRK and the US are still technically at war and the state of truce can turn into an all-out armed conflict [at] any moment even by [accident].

Recently the armed forces of the US have shown unusual military moves targeting the DPRK, and we are analyzing the effects those military actions [could] have on the security of the DPRK and are getting ourselves ready to cope with them,” Pak said.“Anyone can guess with what action the DPRK will [respond with] if the US undertakes military actions against the DPRK,” Pak said, warning that “the use of armed forces against the DPRK [would] be a horrible thing for the US.”Pak also accompanied Kim on his horseback ride on Mt. Paektu, which was covered by North Korean media on the same day. Kim’s trip to Mt. Paektu in the company of a large number of “commanding officers” is thought to indicate that, if the end-of-the-year deadline passes without the US changing its attitude, Kim will move forward on a “new path” complete with military measures.