News / USA

South Korea, Japan, US Hold Military Drills

South Korean and U.S. army, gray, soldiers cheer after a live fire drill during the annual Foal Eagle maneuvers near Rodriguez Range in Pocheon, south of the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, South Korea, March 15, 2012.
South Korean and U.S. army, gray, soldiers cheer after a live fire drill during the annual Foal Eagle maneuvers near Rodriguez Range in Pocheon, south of the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, South Korea, March 15, 2012.
SEOUL - South Korea is participating in several military exercises, some overlapping and involving other countries including the United States and Japan.

U.S. and Japanese naval forces have joined their counterparts from South Korea for a two-day exercise in international waters south of Jeju island.

North Korea's ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun says the three-nation drill threatens to bring a “new cloud of war” to Northeast Asia.

The U.S. and South Korean navies are to continue with what is described as a “routine carrier operation" in the Yellow Sea, west of the Korean peninsula, Saturday through Monday.  The USS George Washington carrier striker group is joining both exercises.

On land, South Korean and American soldiers are to conduct one of their biggest ever joint single-day drills Friday.

It will involve 2,000 troops, fighter jets and other aircraft, including attack helicopters, as well as tanks and rocket launchers firing thousands of rounds.

It is to take place at Pocheon, about 60 kilometers south of the demilitarized zone.

North Korea has lashed out, with typical rhetoric, characterizing this as "clamor for the invasion of the North that makes the situation worse."

South Korea's defense ministry responded to the charge.

Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok tells reporters, although North Korea claims it as a provocation, no military can improve its capabilities without conducting training. He says it is akin to test-takers practicing with various questions. Kim calls North Korea's provocation assertion "totally illogical."

Senior researcher Baek Seung-joo at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses says North Korea is issuing criticism for internal consumption.

Baek says, rather than actually feeling threatened, Pyongyang realizes the exercises in the South are for defensive purposes, but issues criticism to promote solidarity among North Korean citizens by emphasizing a sense of crisis.

Additionally, early next month, South Korea will participate in a Japan-based interdiction exercise which will include Australian and Singaporean airmen.

Officials say the drill, based at Chitose Air Base, in Hokkaido, will simulate a plane carrying radioactive substances flying into Japanese air space. The four air forces are to work together to carry out a mock forced landing of the aircraft and to inspect its cargo.

The exercise is part of the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, intended to halt trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.

Analyst Baek at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses says these exercises have been in the works for a long time and come in response to increased provocations by the North, beginning in 2010.

Baek says the drills send a message that both South Korea and the United States are strongly determined to jointly respond to further North Korean provocations and demonstrate what Pyongyang could face.

Some analysts note one reason for the various drills now is that June has been traditionally a month when North Korea carries out military provocations. They also note the recent warnings emanating from Pyongyang about a "special action" against Seoul and specific warnings to attack the headquarters of particular conservative newspapers and broadcasters deemed to have offended North Korea with critical coverage.

Steve Herman

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

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs