News / Asia

South Korea Stages Air Raid Drill

A South Korean government official controls traffic as part of a civil defense drill in Seoul, 15 Dec 2010
A South Korean government official controls traffic as part of a civil defense drill in Seoul, 15 Dec 2010

South Korea has staged its largest-ever air raid drill. The 15-minute nationwide exercise took place Wednesday afternoon, amid a period of heightened tensions with North Korea.

An air raid siren sounding near Namsan Mountain in central Seoul, that was the signal, along with a notification aired nationwide by radio stations, for the 48 million people of South Korea to stop whatever they were doing.

As a dozen fighter jets shrieked overhead to simulate a North Korean bombing and artillery attack, motorists halted in traffic and pedestrians were ordered to take cover, either in the freezing outdoors or to head into nearby designated shelters.

Those who did not immediately comply were confronted by civil defense wardens. Some of the passersby grumbled, but eventually obeyed.

A motorist, who would only identify himself as Kim, sitting in his car in the middle of a major avenue, complained he was in a hurry and had tried to avoid getting caught in traffic during the drill.

"I don't want to meet this situation in the street. [In the] office is OK," he said. "On the street, I cannot go, driving, right?"



Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, speaking on the radio during the national time out, said the air raid drill is meant to prepare citizens to effectively respond to a situation similar to the November 23rd artillery attack by North Korea on Yeonpyeong island.

The prime minister says he hopes the exercise is a valuable opportunity for citizens to grasp the reality of the country's national security situation.

At a Seoul hotel, U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens acknowledged she was rushing through a luncheon speech to the American Chamber of Commerce so the audience would not be caught outside during the air raid drill.

The ambassador says the United States and South Korea are working very closely, through military and diplomatic channels, to develop countermeasures to North Korea's belligerency. But she says it is China, which has the most significant role to play.

"It is critically important that China continue to play a strong role in making clear to North Korea that there are consequences for its actions," said Stephens.  "We hope that China will work with us to send a clear, unmistakable message to North Korea that they have to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose and end their provocative actions."

Two South Korean marines and two civilians died in the North's shelling last month of Yeonpyeong.  It was the first attack on a civilian-populated area here since 1953, when the Korean civil war was halted.

The two Korea's technically remain at war.  Pyongyang has warned that continuing artillery exercises by Seoul and its joint military drills with the United States are bringing the peninsula closer to war.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
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.

VOA Blogs