North Korea slams South Korea's Yoon, warns sanctions will fuel more hostility

By Soo-hyang Choi

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea on Thursday denounced Seoul's push to impose additional sanctions on Pyongyang after its missile launches, calling South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and his administration "idiots" parroting the United States, state media KCNA reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, made the remarks in a statement carried by KCNA, warning sanctions and pressure would add to the North's "hostility and anger."

South Korea's foreign ministry said on Tuesday it was reviewing independent sanctions on Pyongyang. It said sanctions on the cyber sector were among those considered in case the North pushes ahead with a nuclear test.

North Korea has conducted an unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches this year. For months Washington has said North Korea could conduct a nuclear bomb test, the first since 2017, at any time.

"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 said in the statement, calling Yoon and his government a "running wild dog" with a bone given by the United States.

South Korea's unification ministry, handling inter-Korean affairs, issued a statement over the "deplorable" comments targeting the South Korean leader.

"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," the ministry said in the statement.

The United States has urged the United Nations Security Council 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.

Although both China and Russia backed tighter sanctions after Pyongyang's last nuclear test in 2017, in May they vetoed a U.S.-led push for more U.N. penalties over its renewed missile launches.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Howard Goller and Gerry Doyle)