News / Asia

N. Korea Offers Muted Criticism to US-S. Korean Military Drill

VOA News
North Korea has responded with softer than usual language to an annual U.S.-South Korea war exercise that began this week.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill that began Monday is regularly slammed by Pyongyang officials, who consider it a preparation for invasion.

The North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea on Tuesday mentioned the exercise, but did not specifically criticize it.

The statement instead blasted South Korean President Park Geun-hye for saying last week Seoul should remain on guard and "not forget about war," despite a recent reduction in tensions.

Though it did not mention her by name, the statement said  Park's comments "chill the atmosphere for dialogue." It warned of "uncontrollably catastrophic consequences" if the South continues to "pursue confrontation."

South Korea called the North's statement "regrettable," and said Pyongyang should stop "slamming and slandering" the Seoul government.

But Aidan Foster-Carter, a Korea scholar at Leeds University, says the statement was relatively restrained, by North Korean standards.

"Parsed carefully, this is not the toughest statement. Not like the screaming rage we saw in the spring. There was no mention of Park by name and no mention of the U.S., very interestingly," he said.

  • South Korean army soldiers take part in a South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise at a subway station in Seoul, August 20, 2013.
  • People take shelter from a mock gas attack during a South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise at a subway station in Seoul, August 20, 2013.
  • South Korean army soldiers pass by ticket gates during a South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise at a subway station in Seoul, August 19, 2013.
  • Students walk past South Korean soldiers wearing gas masks during an anti-terror drill at a subway station in Seoul during joint South Korean-U.S. military drills, August 19, 2013.
  • South Korean army soldiers put on gas masks during South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises at a subway station in Seoul, August 19, 2013.
  • Protesters stage a rally against South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises in front of Yongsan U.S. Army headquarters in Seoul, August 19, 2013.

Foster-Carter says this suggests Pyongyang is ready, at least for now, to continue down a path of dialogue that has raised hopes of a period of warmer Korean relations.

Last week, North and South Korea agreed to work toward reopening a joint factory park in Kaesong. On Sunday, the two sides agreed to participate in talks on reuniting families separated during the Korean War.

The increased diplomacy comes after months of tensions following the North's nuclear test and satellite launch, which received tough responses and expanded sanctions from the United Nations.

At its most intense point, North Korea was issuing regular threats of nuclear war against Washington and Seoul, and even appeared to move medium-range missiles to its coast.

But Foster-Carter says the North may now have decided to change course after realizing that its aggressive approach did not yield the results it wanted.

"All that shouting didn't work. It just annoyed everybody, including friends. China was as cross as anybody, and even tightened sanctions just a bit. And now they're trying a different way," he said.

A major part of North Korea's angry reaction earlier this year had to do with a separate set of annual U.S.-South Korean military drills, which saw the U.S. send B-2 [stealth] and B-52 [Stratofortress] bombers over South Korea.

The latest drill is much smaller and conducted on computers. Washington and Seoul say the exercise, which involves more than 80,000 troops, is intended to simulate a response to a North Korean attack.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid