US and South Korea Launch Major Military Drills Amid North Korean Threats

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.04 - 2024 9:31 AM CET

Photo: Stock for you /
Photo: Stock for you /
South Korea and the United States have commenced extensive military exercises to strengthen their defensive capabilities in response to escalating nuclear threats from North Korea.

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South Korea and the United States kicked off their big annual military training on Monday to enhance their defenses against North Korea's nuclear dangers, as reported by AP. This move comes after North Korea increased tensions with a series of missile tests and aggressive talk earlier this year.

The training, named Freedom Shield, combines computer-simulated command post exercises with various field activities and will last for 11 days, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.

North Korea's Reaction

So far, North Korea, which views these drills as preparation for invasion, hasn't reacted to these exercises. However, North Korea has a history of conducting weapon tests in response to such joint military activities by its opponents.

The South Korean military announced it plans to carry out 48 field exercises with the U.S. this spring. This is double the number from last year, including live-fire, bombing, air assault, and missile interception drills.

North Korea has launched over 100 missile tests since early 2022 to upgrade its weapons, while dialogue with the U.S. and South Korea remains on hold. In retaliation, the U.S. and South Korea have increased their joint exercises and sent more U.S. military power to the region, like aircraft carriers and bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

This year, North Korea conducted six missile tests and multiple artillery drills. Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, also stated that North Korea would abandon its aim for a peaceful reunification with South Korea, adopting a more confrontational military stance. He even threatened to "annihilate" South Korea and the U.S. if provoked.

These actions from North Korea have sparked concerns about potential provocations along the heavily fortified Korean borders. However, experts believe a full-scale attack by North Korea is unlikely since it knows its military capabilities do not match those of the U.S. and South Korean forces.

Experts suggest North Korea's recent aggressive behavior might be tied to the elections happening in its rival countries – the U.S. presidential election in November and South Korea's parliamentary elections in April. They believe North Korea aims to use its nuclear advancements to gain more leverage in future negotiations and possibly secure concessions like the lifting of international sanctions.

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