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ConflictsNorth Korea

North Korea threatens South, US over joint military drills

March 5, 2024

Pyongyang described the US-South Korea military exercises as a "threat that would be met with the appropriate response." Seoul had said the drills were expanded in a bid to neutralize North Korean nuclear threats.

A fluttering North Korean Flag
North Korea called the ongoing South Korean-US military drills a plot to invade the countryImage: Edgar Su/REUTERS

North Korea's Defense Ministry on Tuesday warned South Korea and the US against their joint military drills.

The remarks came a day after Seoul and Washington announced the launch of their joint annual military exercise dubbed "Freedom Shield Exercise." 

An RC-12X Guardrail prepares for take-off at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 60 kilometers south of Seoul, on March 3, 2024, a day ahead of South Korea and the United States' annual joint military drills, named the Freedom Shield exercise
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the drills would involve live-firing, bombing,air assault and missile interception trainingsImage: Yonhap/picture alliance

What did North Korea say?

The ministry said in a statement carried by state media that it viewed the drills as "rehearsals of war."

A spokesperson of Pyongyang's Defense Ministry said it strongly denounced what it called "frantic, reckless" military drills, urging South Korea and the US to stop such training.

"The exercises can never be defensive but are an attempt to invade the North," the spokesperson claimed. 

The ministry warned that the joint drill is a "threat that would be met with the appropriate response."

What is the 'Freedom Shield' exercise?

The 11-day, large-scale joint military training by the US and South Korean forces began on March 4, 2024.

In their announcement on Monday, the US and South Korea boasted of having "twice the number of troops joining compared to last year."

South Korea's military said the exercise is meant to counter North Korean threats

Last week, Seoul said it would conduct 48 field exercises with US forces this spring, twice the number conducted last year, and involve live-firing, bombing, air assault and missile interception drills.

The exercise comes as North Korea pushes to develop its nuclear capabilities with missile and other weapons tests.

North Korea tests intercontinental ballistic missile

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ssa/fb (AFP, AP, Reuters)