News / Asia

North Korea Seen Conducting Large-Scale Military Drill Soon

North Korean soldiers look towards the south as a South Korean soldier (R) stands guard in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, July 15, 2011.
North Korean soldiers look towards the south as a South Korean soldier (R) stands guard in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, July 15, 2011.

Reports from South Korea indicate a large-scale military exercise by North Korea appears to be imminent.

South Korean government sources say, based on information from intelligence teams, North Korea appears poised for a rare, large-scale military drill.

Government officials, who do not want to be named, say they are “observing closely” North Korean positions. But they say there are no indications the massing of military personnel appears to be anything more than a drill.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Admiral Michael Mullen, addressing reporters in Washington on Monday, did not make mention of the apparent preparations in North Korea for a military exercise.  But the admiral did express concern that Pyongyang’s military will conduct some sort of action against the South again, at some point.

"It is my view that the North Korean regime will once again attempt to provoke hostilities and that once again leaders in the South will face some difficult decisions about if and how to respond," Mullen said. "Thus far, ROK [South Korea] leaders have shown commendable restraint. But I think it would be a grave mistake for the North to perceive this restraint as a lack of resolve or, in fact, of the capability of our alliance to defend itself," Mullen cautioned.

The North prefers to carry out military exercises this time of year, but maneuvers simultaneously involving the army ground force, the navy and air force are unusual.

South Korean media, quoting government sources here, say a significant number of North Korean troops, MiG-21 fighter jets and about 20 naval vessels have assembled, since last week, at two bases in the Yellow Sea.

Sources speaking to VOA say the North Korean maneuvers could begin as soon as Wednesday, with a simulated coastal landing of troops

Analysts say South Korean and U.S. military intelligence units are closely monitoring activities at the Onchon air base and Nampo naval facility to the southwest of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

U.S. Forces Korea, in an e-mailed response to VOA, said it cannot comment on intelligence matters and does not “feel it appropriate to speculate on press reports.”

Monday, North Korea’s official news agency reported that leader Kim Jong-il and his son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un had visited the Navy command in Pyongyang.

North Korea is blamed for the sinking of a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea in 2010.  It also launched an artillery attack on a South Korean island in the same waters last year.

North Korea has repeatedly denied that its torpedo sank the Cheonan warship. As for the shelling of Yeonpyeong island, Pyongyang called it a response to South Korea’s military firing into disputed waters.

Last month, South Korea inaugurated a new defense command to protect Yeonpyeong and four other frontline islands. At the time, President Lee Myung-bak said South Korea would retaliate “strongly and thoroughly” if the North attacked again.

The western sea has long been a flashpoint for the two Koreas.

In recent days, North Korea has been warning of military retaliation if South Korea and the United States go ahead next month with an annual exercise.  North Korean media are terming the joint maneuver an open military threat and preparation for a nuclear attack on the country.

U.S. and South Korean military officials term the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise a routine defensive training “to enhance the combat readiness” of their alliance.

The new commander of the Combined Forces Command, U.S. Army General James Thurman, says the exercise will include “tough and realistic training events focused on preparing, preventing and prevailing against the full range of current and future threats to the Republic of Korea and the region."

The ten-day drill, beginning in mid-August, will see the mobilization of tens of thousands of South Korean and American military personnel.

The military training on both sides of the demilitarized zone comes amid positive diplomatic moves.

For the first time in two-and-a-half years government officials of the two Koreas have held their first non-secret meeting.

That took place last Friday on the sidelines of the ASEAN regional forum on an Indonesian resort island.  Immediately after that surprise meeting, the United States invited a top-ranking North Korean diplomat to New York.  He is to meet with U.S. diplomats there, later this week.

The two Koreas have never signed a peace treaty since their three-year civil war in the early 1950’s, which they fought to a stalemate.

Wednesday marks the 58th anniversary of the signing of the armistice which halted hostile action.  North Korea celebrates it as “War Victory Day.”

At the truce village, Panmunjom, the day is to be commemorated at a short ceremony attended by the military and civilian leadership of the U.S.-led United Nations Command, South Korean officials and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid