Kim Yo Jong, who is herself a senior North Korean official, issued a statement directed at the United States just hours after the White House said the president had not heard back from the hermit nation.
“A word of advice to the new administration of the United States that is struggling to spread the smell of gunpowder on our land from across the ocean,” Kim was quoted as saying in state media, according to the BBC. “If it wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”
Earlier on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the administration had reached out to North Korea.
“Diplomacy is always our goal. Our goal is to reduce the risk of escalation. But, to date, we have not received any response,” she said, adding that this “follows over a year without active dialogue with North Korea, despite multiple attempts by the U.S. to engage.”
Tensions are on the rise as North Korea builds its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, which it claimed in 2017 could reach the U.S. Relations with the isolated country initially improved under former President Donald Trump, but the relationship soured again after the pair failed to agree on nuclear disarmament or sanctions, cutting their Vietnamese summit short in 2019.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are visiting South Korea this week.
President Biden has announced that he will review the U.S.’s policy on North Korea, which includes addressing its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.