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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs