North Korea is prepared for a nuclear war with the US, the nation’s ambassador to the UK has said.
Hyun Hak-bong said that the country is ready “anytime” to launch nuclear missiles as joint South Korean and US military exercises continue to take place on the border with the North.
He said in an interview with Sky News from the embassy in Acton, west London: “We are ready for nuclear war.”
Asked if they would be prepared to “press the button first” rather than wait until the US makes the first strike, he said: “We are peace-loving people. We do not want war. But we are not afraid of war. This is our policy of the government.”
The annual military exercise is described by North Korea as an “act of aggression” while the US and its allies say that it’s an “act of defence”. Mr Hak-bong claims that the US is waiting until North Korea is “relaxed” before making the first hit.
He also called defectors who have escaped from North Korea due to persecution or poverty “human scum” and “animals” while the United Nations Security Council launches another investigation into the country’s human rights record.
Most migrants from the country run by Kim Jong-un flee via China, an ally of North Korea, to settle in places across Asia and Russia. If caught in China, they face being returned to North Korea to be sentenced to severe punishment or even death.
Mr Hak-bong said: “Those allegations are based on fabricated stories by the defectors from the North.
“Do you know the difference between human beings and animals? Human beings have a conscience and morality. If they do not have a conscience and a morality, they are like nothing.
“They’re animals. That is why we call the defectors animals. They are no better than animals. They’re human scum.”
Around 70 per cent of defectors who have settled in South Korea since 1998 are women in their 30s. The majority leave due to economic difficulties and the want of freedom.
Men often cite life-threatening situations, dislike of the government and persecution by the state as reasons to escape the country, according to South Korea government data published by NK News.