South Korea, US begin drills as North Korea threatens war - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

South Korea, US begin drills as North Korea threatens war

Posted: Updated:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, is welcomed by personnel at a military unit on Jangjae islet, located in the southernmost part of the southwestern sector of North Korea's border with South Korea, March 7, 2013. (KCNA via KNS/AP Photo) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, is welcomed by personnel at a military unit on Jangjae islet, located in the southernmost part of the southwestern sector of North Korea's border with South Korea, March 7, 2013. (KCNA via KNS/AP Photo)

By HYUNG-JIN KIM

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea and the United States began annual military drills Monday despite North Korean threats to respond by voiding the armistice that ended the Korean War and launching a nuclear attack on the U.S.

After the start of the drills, South Korean officials said their northern counterparts didn't answer two calls on a hotline between the sides, apparently following through on an earlier vow to cut the communication channel because of the drills.

Pyongyang has launched a bombast-filled propaganda campaign against the drills, which involve 10,000 South Korean and about 3,000 American troops, and last week's U.N. vote to impose new sanctions over the North's Feb. 12 nuclear test. Analysts believe that much of that campaign is meant to shore up loyalty among citizens and the military for North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang isn't believed to be able to build a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, and the North's military has repeatedly vowed in the past to scrap the 1953 armistice. North Korea wants a formal peace treaty, security guarantees and other concessions, as well as the removal of 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

Still, South Korean and U.S. officials have been closely monitoring Pyongyang's actions and parsing the torrent of recent rhetoric from the North, which has been more warlike than usual.

North Korea regularly claims South Korea-U.S. drills are a preparation for invasion, but Pyongyang has signaled more worry about the drills that began Monday. The drills follow U.N. sanctions that the North says are the result of U.S. hostility aimed at toppling its political system.

North Korea has also warned South Korea of a nuclear war on the divided peninsula and said it was cancelling nonaggression pacts.

Under newly inaugurated President Park Geun-hye, South Korea's Defense Ministry, which often brushes off North Korean threats, has looked to send a message of strength in response to the latest threats. The ministry warned Friday that the North's government would "evaporate from the face of the Earth" if it ever used a nuclear weapon. The White House also said the U.S. is fully capable of defending itself against a North Korean ballistic attack.

North Korea has said the U.S. mainland is within the range of its long-range missiles, and an army general told a Pyongyang rally last week that the military is ready to fire a long-range nuclear-armed missile to turn Washington into a "sea of fire."

While outside scientists are still trying to determine specifics, the North's rocket test in December and third atomic bomb test last month may have pushed the country a step closer to acquiring the ability to hit the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction. Analysts, however, say Pyongyang is still years away from acquiring the smaller, lighter nuclear warheads needed for a credible nuclear missile program.

But there are still worries about a smaller conflict. North Korea has a variety of missiles and other weapons capable of striking South Korea. In 2010, North Korea shelled a South Korean island and allegedly torpedoed a South Korean warship, killing a total of 50 South Koreans.

Both incidents occurred near the disputed western sea boundary, a recurring flashpoint between the Koreas that has seen three other bloody naval skirmishes since 1999.

Kim Jong Un visited two islands just north of the sea boundary last week and ordered troops there to open fire immediately if a single enemy shell is fired on North Korean waters. Kim was also quoted as saying his military is fully ready to fight an "all-out war" and that he will order a "just, great advance for national unification" if the enemy makes even a slight provocation, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

Despite the threats, South Korea and the U.S. began the 11-day war games as scheduled Monday. The allies have repeatedly said the drills and other joint exercises are defensive in nature and they have no intention of attacking the North.

A U.S. military statement said the exercise is not related to current events on the Korean Peninsula.

The drills are part of larger war games that began March 1 and are set to go on for two months.

U.S. troops in South Korea are meant to prevent North Korean aggression, U.S. and South Korean officials say, and are a legacy of the Korean War, which ended with the peace treaty that leaves the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war.

___

Associated Press writer Foster Klug contributed to this report from Seoul.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Survey finds support for Atlantic salmon in Oahe

    Survey finds support for Atlantic salmon in Oahe

    Friday, July 25 2014 4:05 AM EDT2014-07-25 08:05:15 GMT
    A survey by South Dakota wildlife officials has found that few anglers object to the addition of Atlantic salmon to Lake Oahe.More >>
    A survey by South Dakota wildlife officials has found that few anglers object to the addition of Atlantic salmon to Lake Oahe.
    More >>
  • Mines students, others present research in Pierre

    Mines students, others present research in Pierre

    Friday, July 25 2014 4:04 AM EDT2014-07-25 08:04:11 GMT
    Undergraduate students who have conducted research in metallurgical engineering and other topics this summer are set to present their work at a symposium in Pierre.More >>
    Undergraduate students who have conducted research in metallurgical engineering and other topics this summer are set to present their work at a symposium in Pierre.More >>
  • Home for Austin one step closer to completion

    Home for Austin one step closer to completion

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:31 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:31:44 GMT
    Austin Coffee’s arms and legs were amputated when he was just three years old to save him from a rare form of Meningitis. Thursday, the now seven-year-old is getting ready to move into a new house built especially for him.More >>
    Austin Coffee’s arms and legs were amputated when he was just three years old to save him from a rare form of Meningitis. Thursday, the now seven-year-old is getting ready to move into a new house built especially for him.More >>
  • Watering restrictions in effect for Brandon

    Watering restrictions in effect for Brandon

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:28 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:28:27 GMT
    Starting Thursday, neighbors in Brandon will be under a water restriction. Those with even-number addresses can water on even-number days and those with odd-number addresses can water on odd-number days.  Watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Starting Thursday, neighbors in Brandon will be under a water restriction. Those with even-number addresses can water on even-number days and those with odd-number addresses can water on odd-number days. Watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
    Starting Thursday, neighbors in Brandon will be under a water restriction. Those with even-number addresses can water on even-number days and those with odd-number addresses can water on odd-number days.  Watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for everyone. More >>
    Starting Thursday, neighbors in Brandon will be under a water restriction. Those with even-number addresses can water on even-number days and those with odd-number addresses can water on odd-number days.  Watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for everyone. More >>
  • Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Raising the standard of cancer care

    Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Raising the standard of cancer care

    Thursday, July 24 2014 11:14 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:14:28 GMT
    It's a fair bet that cancer has touched your life. Whether it's you personally or through a friend or a loved one. While the diagnosis can be crushing, it's not a defeat. With each day, medicines and tools are getting better.More >>
    It's a fair bet that cancer has touched your life. Whether it's you personally or through a friend or a loved one. While the diagnosis can be crushing, it's not a defeat. With each day, medicines and tools are getting better.
    More >>
  • Prosecutor: Doctor fires back at hospital gunman who killed one

    Prosecutor: Doctor fires back at hospital gunman who killed one

    Thursday, July 24 2014 9:40 PM EDT2014-07-25 01:40:00 GMT
    A psychiatrist who was grazed by gunfire from a patient at a hospital on Thursday helped stop the patient by apparently using his own weapon to shoot and wound him, but not before a caseworker was killed, authorities said.More >>
    A psychiatrist who was grazed by gunfire from a patient at a hospital on Thursday helped stop the patient by apparently using his own weapon to shoot and wound him, but not before a caseworker was killed, authorities said.More >>
  • Officials: ISIS blows up Jonah's tomb in Iraq

    Officials: ISIS blows up Jonah's tomb in Iraq

    Thursday, July 24 2014 9:38 PM EDT2014-07-25 01:38:55 GMT
    If you blink during the video, you might miss the moment Jonah's tomb in Mosul, Iraq, explodes. The first few frames show the revered shrine towering over its landscape. There's a sudden burst of dust, fire and smoke. Then, nothing.More >>
    If you blink during the video, you might miss the moment Jonah's tomb in Mosul, Iraq, explodes. The first few frames show the revered shrine towering over its landscape. There's a sudden burst of dust, fire and smoke. Then, nothing.
    More >>
  • Prep work begins for fence installation at Van Eps Park

    Prep work begins for fence installation at Van Eps Park

    Thursday, July 24 2014 7:25 PM EDT2014-07-24 23:25:53 GMT
    Van Eps park has seen a lot of activity the past few weeks. Many have complained about people hanging out and drinking in the park. Thursday, the park was busy with construction equipment.More >>
    Van Eps park has seen a lot of activity the past few weeks. Many have complained about people hanging out and drinking in the park. Thursday, the park was busy with construction equipment.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KSFY. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service or our EEO Report.