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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid