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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs