Seoul intends to send Pyongyang message of strength amid high tensions
Former South Korean marines burn images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, right, and his son Kim Jong Un, during a rally Nov. 27, 2010 in Seoul. (Photo: Wally Santana / AP)
By Hyung-Jin Kim
Dec. 22, 2010
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea mobilized troops, tanks, helicopters and fighter jets for its largest-ever wintertime military drills Thursday, a show of force that comes a month after North Korea’s deadly shelling of a front-line island.
The drills, set to begin Thursday afternoon at training grounds in mountainous Pocheon near the Koreas’ heavily fortified border, signaled South Korea’s determination to demonstrate and hone its military strength at the risk of further escalation with North Korea. …
Amid international concerns of all-out war on the tense Korean peninsula, South Korea has pushed ahead with military exercises over the past several weeks, including live-fire drills from Yeonpyeong Island and Monday’s land-based exercises. …
Forty-seven similar exercises have taken place this year but Thursday’s maneuvers were scheduled in response to the North Korean attack, an army officer said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.
“We will thoroughly punish the enemy if it provokes us again as with the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island,” Brig. Gen. Ju Eun-sik, chief of the South Korean army’s 1st Armored Brigade, said in a statement Wednesday.
There was no immediate response from North Korea, which has shown restraint in recent days.
The two Koreas remain technically at war because their 1950s conflict ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. …
Thursday’s air force and army drills will involve 800 troops, F-15K and KF-16 jet fighters, K-1 tanks, AH-1S attack helicopters and K-9 self-propelled guns at military training grounds in Pocheon, about 30 miles north of Seoul and about 20 miles from the North Korean border. …
In Seoul, a senior South Korean government official said the military would remain prepared for the possibility of a “surprise” attack in coming days. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. …
Related reports on this site
Crew members watch as an F/A-18E Super Hornet lands on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during a naval exercise with South Korea in the Yellow Sea on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. (Photo credit: Park Ji-hwan / AFP – Getty Images)
Escalation of Conflict in Korea (Dec. 20, 2010)
Push Could Come to Shove in Korea (Dec. 6, 2010)
Winds of War on Korean Peninsula (Nov. 25, 2010)
North Korea Threatens ‘Sacred War’ (July 23, 2010)
Kim Jong Il Threat Assessment (May 31, 2009)
Visitors see North Korea still stunted by its isolation (Sharon LaFraniere, New York Times, Dec. 27, 2010) — A carefully monitored visit to North Korea offered hints of why its leaders might be eager to resume international aid and trade.
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