SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea warned Saturday that U.S. military forces in South Korea "would meet a miserable destruction" if the two allies went ahead with planned military drills in March, North Korean state media reported.
Washington and Seoul regularly carry out military exercises in the region. The North alleges they are preparations for an attack — a claim denied by the South and the United States.
"You had better bear in mind that those igniting a war are destined to meet a miserable destruction while a great victory is in store for the guardians of justice," North Korea's Pak Rim Su, a top military officer to the border village of Panmunjom, told James Thurman, head of U.S. forces in South Korea, by telephone.
The heated rhetoric comes after a White House official made two secret visits to North Korea last year in an unsuccessful effort to improve relations after new ruler Kim Jong Un assumed power, according to former U.S. officials familiar with the trips.
The brief visits in April and August were aimed at encouraging the new leadership to moderate its foreign policy after the death of Kim's father, longtime autocrat Kim Jong Il, in December 2011.