War drills ignite on both sides of the DMZ

War drills ignite on both sides of the DMZ

SEOUL — War drills got underway on, off and over the Korean peninsula on Monday, with the U.S. and South Korea opening a round of joint military exercises while North Korea carried out a cruise missile test.

American and South Korean forces began their annual “Ulji Freedom Shield” drills, which will continue for the next 11 days through August 31.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, meanwhile, personally oversaw the test-firing of a cruise missile into the Sea of Japan.

However, the missile failed to hit its target and was not a long-range missile, according to an unnamed source cited by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency released photos, showing Mr. Kim — in a white tunic and black trousers — watching from a nearby vessel as the cruise missile was fired.

Washington and Seoul are carrying out their annual military exercises amid ongoing threats from the Kim regime, which has long claimed the drills are a rehearsal for a U.S.-South Korean invasion of North Korea. American and South Korean officials describe the drills as purely defensive.

While U..S officials have declined to confirm that the current round of “Ulji Freedom Shield” exercises are the biggest such drills undertaken in terms of the number of troops fielded, The Washington Times understands they include a wider range of separate training components — at least 30 — than in any previous year. The exercises include civil defense drills.

U.S. and South Korean forces are carrying out the drills in the wake of Saturday’s trilateral summit between Japan, South Korean and the United States at Camp David.

“The larger North Korea’s threats of provocations become, the more solid the structure of trilateral security cooperation among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan will become,” South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said Monday. “These structures of trilateral cooperation will lower the risk of North Korea’s provocations and further strengthen our security.”