News / Asia

US Stealth Bombers Fly Over Korean Peninsula

US B-2 stealth bomber flies south of Seoul, South Korea, March 28, 2013
US B-2 stealth bomber flies south of Seoul, South Korea, March 28, 2013
U.S. B-2 bombers have conducted a firing drill on the Korean peninsula.

The U.S. military is making no secret that the non-stop flights of a pair of B-2 bombers Thursday from the United States to South Korea should be interpreted as a signal to North Korea.

A military news release announcing the mission says it "demonstrates the United States' ability to conduct long range, precision strikes quickly and at will."

The strategic stealth bombers flew from Whiteman Air Force Base in the U.S. state of Missouri to drop inert munitions on an island off the southwestern coast of the Korean peninsula before heading back to their home base - a 20,000 kilometer non-stop trip.

Shin In-kyun, who heads the Korea Defense Network - an alliance of military experts based in Seoul - says it is unprecedented for the U.S. Air Force to be so transparent about such B-2 flights.

Shin says this means that the United States is taking seriously the provocative language from Pyongyang. And the B-2 is “a weapon North Korea fears the most.”

Twice earlier this month, during joint U.S.-South Korean exercises, the U.S. Air Force also dispatched B-52 bombers from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam to fly training missions over South Korea.

Both the B-2's and the B-52's are capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The announcement of the B-2 flights came just hours after the defense chiefs of the United States and South Korea spoke on the telephone.

A Pentagon news release says U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin discussed the unwavering commitment of the United States to its alliance with South Korea, "especially during this time of heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula."

Earlier, Pentagon spokesman George Little was asked about the U.S.Defense Department's reaction to North Korea's cutting Wednesday of the only remaining military hotline with the South.

"This is yet another provocative and unconstructive step that the North Korean regime has taken," he said. "It's very important for the regime to focus on what we think is the right course of action and that is the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and their provocations and bellicose rhetoric is not helping the situation."

North Korea earlier disconnected the Red Cross hotline at the Panmunjom truce village and stopped accepting phone calls on the line linking it to the U.S.-led United Nations Command.

South Korea's government says the aviation hotline linking the Incheon and Pyongyang air traffic controllers remains operational.

South Korea has requested the North reconnect the military hotline which Seoul says helps ensure the safety of those entering the Kaesong joint industrial park from the South.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye held a policy meeting on North Korea Wednesday at the presidential palace.  Ms. Park said her country will not be idle while Pyongyang makes threats to disrupt the peace. 

More than 1,000 South Koreans on Thursday passed through the Paju border control post, to and from the complex just north of the demilitarized zone.

Officials say they are now using one of the 1,300 civilian telephone lines connecting South Korea to the Kaesong industrial complex to relay the names of those seeking entry, mostly employers and managers.

North Korea announced Wednesday it was immediately cutting off the hotline. The announcement blamed the United States and South Korea for rising hostility on the peninsula.

During this period of rising tension, which has included threats to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States and South Korea, the impoverished and isolated North has not disrupted operations of the industrial park.

The complex is responsible for $2 billion annually in inter-Korean trade and is one of the few sources of legitimate hard currency for North Korea.

Wages totaling $80 million a year are paid to the North Korean government, not directly to the 50,000 workers who assemble household goods.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jay from: CA
April 12, 2013 7:15 PM
Pure provocation. Simple. Typical US bullying tactics.

by: Franz Kratschmer from: Darwin, Australia.
April 02, 2013 10:03 PM
One question addressed to:

1) The United Nations Secretary-General: Would it be possible for you to arrange one meeting in Panmunjon?
2) The US President: Are there any obstacles participating in such meeting?
3) The NK Leader: As you always wished to negotiate directly with the US - would you attend?
4) The new Chinese Leadership: Would you discuss this with the NK leader?

I just can not figure out why this has not happened before.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 28, 2013 10:14 PM
A tremendous waste of fuel, lots of wear and tear on the B-2, useless gesture. The NKorean leadership does not react, nor does it behave normally, more granstanding does not add anything positive to the equations resolution. As a matter of fact, the more response, the more they willl react. Ignoring them, is the only thing that hurts their sense of self.

The more they are engaged, through grandstanding, the more they are being boxed into reacting; if anything, the flight of the B-2 is counterproductive, unless it is actually loaded with real munitions, and fully engages in its mission, which no one wants. The more the ratcheting, the greater the reaction will be, it is akin to tightening a spring, the more it is shortened, the further it will extend/react. Just standby, be ready, and do not get surprised when the spring fully recoils! And no concrete rounds on the B-2s or B-52s.....

by: Dave from: U.S.
March 28, 2013 6:08 PM
If anyone starts a war, the only winner will be the undertaker, and the biggest losers will be the people of North and South Korea, followed by the rest of civilization.

by: musawmelake
March 28, 2013 1:43 PM
THis show of strength, if it really a strength, may alo mean the US and their allies are very scared!, for if a war is to break out then it's not going to be a war between the US and allies on one side and the North-Koreans on the other, but the war would bring in the Chinese, who were able to teach a lesson to the so called UN-force in the 50s. Chinese were unarmed with nuclear bombs, but now though the damage may be greater in terms of matterials to the Chinese, the US would not be able to atand uopn again. That's why all these exercises and shows.

If they were aiming at dicouraging the North-Korean enemy by this kinds of shows, they might have done the same with Sadam Husain, Kadaffi and Assad of Syria, instead of going in all at once!. In these latter cases they knew the enemy is unarmed compared to their own arsenals, after a lengthy embargos. But the Koreans are a different beasts to tame. Koreans will tame the Free-Masons first!
In Response

by: Horizontal Asymptote from: USA
March 28, 2013 3:56 PM
These exercises (most commonly known as Foal Eagle) have been conducted every year since 1997. Though I don't believe it's correct to say that the exercises have nothing to do with the recent threats from North Korea, these exercises would have taken place in some form regardless of how much yelling was going on. So I think you're off the mark by trying to compare Foal Eagle to conflicts in Iraq, Libya, or Syria...

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 28, 2013 1:04 PM
This is Hollywood acting. Enough of the threats. North Korea threatens. USA threatens. No, that's not what we want to see. We want to see the real thing happen. Who fires first, North Korea, USA or South Korea. Let the game start - War game I mean. Enough of threatening. North Korea must stop bothering people with its ability to shoot down Satan from its palace in hell. We want to see real action, and now is the best time to stop Pyongyang from further noise making about war, BECAUSE IT IS NOT A CHILD'S PLAY.

by: Michael from: USA
March 28, 2013 8:46 AM
Any political organization that is backed up by strong military force must know for sure if their cause is correct. So to think about whether the cause is correct is to do something other than military acts, that is, place a "hold" on all violence and think

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs