News / Asia

    US, South Korea Begin Military Drill Amid North Korean War Threats

    South Korean protesters rally against the annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States in front of the South Korean and United States War Command Center in Seongnam, South Korea, Feb. 28, 2011.
    South Korean protesters rally against the annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States in front of the South Korean and United States War Command Center in Seongnam, South Korea, Feb. 28, 2011.

    South Korea and the United States on Monday began their annual extensive joint military exercises, prompting a renewed war threat by North Korea.

    More than 12,000 members of the U.S. military are joining 200,000 South Korean service members for the maneuvers.

    South Korean media report that exercise scenarios this year include tracing weapons of mass destruction and coping with a sudden regime change in Pyongyang.

    Retired U.S. Army General John Wickham, who commanded American forces here, says it is not surprising that such a contingency has become part of the long-standing joint exercise.

    "That's an important thing to be concerned about, given the uncertainty of food problems and the transition of leadership. It would be foolhardy if the South Korean authorities and the Combined Forces authorities weren't planning for the potential of something like that.  I'm sure the Chinese are concerned about that, too," said Wickham.

    The United States says the drills are defensive in nature and that it informed North Korea in advance about the exercises.

    There are two parts to the drill. A command post computer simulation war game called Key Resolve is scheduled to continue until March 10.  Air, ground and naval forces are taking part in maneuvers code-named "Foal Eagle".  They are expected to run through the end of
    April.

    South Korean media report that the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan will participate.  U.S. military sources say an announcement is expected to be made by the end of this week on which navy ships will take part in "Foal Eagle".

    North Korea’s army on Sunday said the U.S.-South Korea drills are aimed at removing the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal and destroying the country. It warned that provoking Pyongyang through the exercises would lead to "all-out war" with the South Korean capital being turned into "a sea of fire."

    General Wickham says he has heard similar rhetoric before and that he is not overly concerned. "I think this is more saber rattling to see how far they can push the envelope of tension and fear," he said.

    South Korea’s Defense Ministry denies a Yonhap news agency report quoting the Joints Chiefs of Staff here as saying the country’s military alert status for maritime and land borders has been raised to cope with any provocations from the North.

    Tensions on the Korean Peninsula soared to their highest level in decades last year. North Korea was blamed for sinking a South Korean naval warship in the Yellow Sea. Forty-six South Korean sailors died in the incident. In the same waters, North Korea shelled Frontier island where the South was conducting a military drill.  Four people died on Yeongpyeong Island during that incident.

    North Korea on Sunday also threatened to fire again into the South if a propaganda balloon campaign is not halted.

    Two-and-a-half million leaflets were floated into the North earlier this month. The balloons carried messages ridiculing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and calling for people to rise against the communist government. The balloons also carried news of the Middle East uprisings.

    Governing Grand National Party lawmaker Shin Ji-ho, who took part in a recent balloon launch near the Demilitarized Zone says that regardless of what North Korea says, South Korea will continue to send balloons over the border.


    Steve Herman

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

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.