US, South Korea launch their largest war games in years
Although the US and South Korea brand their exercises as "defensive," the DPRK still stresses that they're rehearsals for a potential invasion.
The United States and South Korea have begun their largest joint military exercises in years on Monday, disappointing thousands of South Koreans who have been protesting in rejection of the war games.
The drills, named the Ulchi Freedom Shield drills, will continue to September 1, as the training will take place with various aircraft, warships, and artillery in addition to thousands of troops dealing with hypothetical "defensive" and "counterattack" scenarios.
In the first stage of the drills, a hypothetical DPRK attack will be repelled, in addition to initiating a civil defense response to a number of stimulated threats, such as “fire at a semiconductor factory,” “airport terrorism,” or “discovery of improvised explosive devices at nuclear power plants,” according to the Yonhap news agency.
The second stage of the drills will see the two allied sides sharpen "counterattack" capabilities by conducting live fire drills during over 12 different combined field training programs.
Although the US and South Korea brand their exercises as "defensive," North Korea has repeatedly stressed that they're rehearsals for a potential invasion.
In recent years, the exercises between the two have been restrained, however, they were strongly revived when South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol assumed office in May, vowing to "normalize" this "deterrent".
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month called the drills "thug-like behavior" in a speech on the 69th anniversary of the armistice that settled the 1950-1953 Korean War. Within the same context, he accused the South of seeking a "suicidal confrontation" to deepen ties with "the US imperialists."
Most recently, the US and South Korea, along with Tokyo, conducted military drills off the coast of Hawaii for the first time in several years.
Last month, the DPRK Foreign Ministry said that the joint US-South Korea military exercises in the future could bring the Korean Peninsula back to a state of war.
The situation in the region escalated following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent visit to Taiwan. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and opposes any direct official foreign contacts with the island. Washington's exercises with Japan and South Korea against the DPRK come in conjunction with the recent tensions.