Despite being aggressively threatened and warned on the continuation of military exercises by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, otherwise known as North Korea, and facing some protests from South Korean citizens, the South Korean government announced that it will begin a series of joint military exercises with the United States and militaries from seven other country members of the United Nations Command. The exercise is dubbed “UFG” or the Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
The Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, according to the U.S. and South Korea, are meant to reinforce the military defenses against possible North Korean or other foreign threats to the region.
The military exercises will involve more than 500,000 troops on land and naval forces in the Yellow for 10 days beginning on Tuesday.
This usual pattern of South Korea and its allies announcing military drills and North Korea threatening nuclear war is almost routine (and increasingly tiresome and frustrating) in the political field.
In the past 2 years, North Korea played out a dangerous game of brinkmanship that came close to breaking the 1953 armistice between North and Korea.
Incidents included the confirmed North Korean sinking of a South Korean war vessel, the artillery bombardment of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island and more recently North Korean artillery fire near the disputed maritime border between North and South Korea called the Northern Limit Line.
Besides provoking its southern neighbor, North Korea also destroyed the already fragile structure of the diplomatic progress painstakingly built up by the United States and South Korea as part of their efforts to finally resume denuclearization talks regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons in the “Six-Party Talks” involving Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, the United States and North Korea.
Reunification talks between the two nations have of course deteriorated rapidly in contrast to the days of the Sunshine Policy.
With the latest moves from both sides across the 38th parallel, it now seems everything is back to square one.
(Cover Photo: U.S. Army Files; 2011)