SEOUL, June 11 (UPI) -- A North Korean official warned the United States against interfering in inter-Korean affairs on Thursday, threatening that it would "experience horrible thing[s]" and suggesting that November's elections could be at risk.
Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the Department of U.S. Affairs in North Korea's foreign ministry, made the remarks after a U.S. official expressed disappointment in Pyongyang's decision to cut off communications with the South.
The U.S. State Department official "made such useless remarks that he supports the improvement of the inter-Korean relations but was disappointed at the recent behavior of the DPRK," Kwon said in a report in state-run Korean Central News Agency. "This is, indeed, ridiculous."
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
The North Korean official was apparently referring to a Tuesday report by South Korean news agency Yonhap that quoted an unnamed State Department representative.
"The United States has always supported progress in inter-Korean relations, and we are disappointed in the DPRK's recent actions," the representative said.
Kwon said the United States would face severe consequences if it continued to comment on the inter-Korean spat and implied that the communist state would interfere in November's presidential election.
"The U.S. had better hold its tongue and mind its internal affairs first if it doesn't want to experience horrible thing[s]," he said. "It would be good not only for the U.S. interests but also for the easy holding of upcoming presidential election."
Tensions have been on the rise on the Korean Peninsula over the past week as North Korean officials have repeatedly expressed outrage over information leaflets floated on balloons by defectors in South Korea.
On Tuesday, North Korea announced it was cutting off communication lines at the inter-Korean liaison office in the border city of Kaesong, as well as military and presidential hotlines.
Kwon claimed that North Korea was feeling "extreme dismay and resentment" toward the United States and South Korea after a period of rapprochement that began in 2018 has stalled.
"How can the 'disappointment' touted by the U.S. be compared with the extreme dismay and resentment we are feeling at the U.S. and the [S]outh Korean authorities that have repeated betrayal and provocation for the last two years?" Kwon said.
Relations among the nations have cooled after a summit held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February last year between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to produce an agreement on denuclearization and sanctions relief.
Pyongyang restarted its weapons testing program in the latter half of 2019 after a 17-month hiatus and the communist state has rebuffed efforts from South Korea for new talks and joint economic and tourism projects.
Last week, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, issued a statement through state-run media calling the sending of information leaflets by defectors a "sordid and wicked act of hostility" and threatened that Pyongyang would withdraw from a military agreement with Seoul unless the South took action.
The leaflets, which have been sent for years by defectors across the border, contain messages that are critical of Kim Jong Un and the North Korean regime.
The South Korean government, which is eager to improve ties with the North, has appeared to take Pyongyang's side on the issue and said Wednesday it would take legal action against two defectors' organizations for sending the leaflets.