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S. Korea, US begin joint military drills without notice to N. Korea

S. Korea, US begin joint military drills without notice to N. Korea

Posted August. 17, 2021 07:39,   

Updated August. 17, 2021 07:39


South Korea and the United States began their nine-day joint military exercises on Monday. South Korea used to notify North Korea of their training schedule through the direct line between the UN Command and North Korea, but did not give prior notice this time. South Korean military authorities said on Monday that no unusual movements have been detected in North Korea but they are closely monitoring its military movements. Eyes are on what message Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, will deliver during his visit to South Korea on Saturday. Kim is in charge of working-level nuclear talks with North Korea

A South Korean military official said on Monday that they did not notify North Korea of the schedule and the characteristics of the drills, adding they have not done so since North Korea blew up a joint liaison office in Kaesong in June last year. Some point out that the military might have decided not to notify North Korea of the drills as the North strongly denounced the joint military drills with the U.S.

The computer simulated training preparing for a potential war on the Korean Peninsula includes a defense scenario, scheduled for Aug. 16 to 20, and a counterattack scenario, scheduled for Aug. 23 to 26. Prior to the drills, South Korea and the U.S. agreed to strictly observe the toughened COVID-19 guidelines announced by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, allowing one person per 6 square meters in a bunker and keeping a safe distance of 2 meters from each other. Due to the toughened social distancing measures, the B-1 bunker controlled by Army Capital Defense Command and the command post of the South Korean and U.S. armed forces for CP Tango were further subdivided into two.

In an official announcement on Sunday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff exceptionally stressed that there will be no live training. Considering that the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill, the predecessor of the August joint military drills, was computer-simulated training, people in and outside the military say the announcement by the Joint Chiefs of Staff is a message to North Korea, being mindful of the North’s protest.

North Korea did not make any public statements or reports about the joint military drills on Monday. However, a North Korean propaganda media outlet on Sunday denounced the joint military drills as a practice for invasion of North Korea.

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com