North Korea's Kim Yo Jong accuses South Korean leader of using tensions as political distraction

FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Putin and North Korea's leader Kim meet in Amur region

By Joyce Lee and Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) -Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accused South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol of generating tensions on the Korean peninsula to divert attention from problems at home, state media said on Monday.

Tensions between the two Koreas are running high after Pyongyang signed a mutual defence pact with Russia and sent trash-filled balloons over to South Korea in response to South Korean activists' balloon launches with anti-North Korea leaflets.

"The Yoon and his group, plunged into the worst ruling crisis, are attempting an 'emergency escape' through the platform of ever-escalating tensions," Kim Yo Jong said, according to KCNA.

She cited an online petition calling for Yoon to be impeached, with more than 1 million signatures.

Kim Yo Jong also called South's recent firing drills near the border an "inexcusable and explicit provocation".

The South Korean military has resumed live-fire artillery drills near the western maritime border in late June, the first time since 2018.

Last month, South Korea said it would suspend a military agreement signed with North Korea in 2018 aimed at easing tensions, in protest against North Korea's trash balloon launches toward the South.

Kim said that in case North Korea judges its own sovereignty as violated, its armed forces will immediately carry out mission and duty according to its constitution.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Ju-min Park; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Aurora Ellis and Michael Perry)