South Korea and the US will hold joint anti-submarine exercises in another show of force against North Korea, officials said yesterday, as Pyongyang renewed threats against the drills.
The exercises will be the second in a series of joint maneuvers the allies have planned to conduct in response to the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March that they blame on the North. The two sides staged large-scale joint naval drills in July, followed by South Korea’s own naval drills last month.
The marine patrol exercises, set to run from tomorrow through Thursday off the Korean Peninsula’s west coast, will involve about 17,000 troops, seven ships and two submarines, as well as aircraft, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US military in Seoul said.
The exercises are “designed to send a clear message of deterrence to North Korea, while improving overall alliance anti-submarine warfare capabilities,” the US military in Seoul said in a statement.
The announcement of the planned drills comes as China reportedly holds live-ammunition exercises in the Yellow Sea.
An international team of investigators concluded in May that a North Korean torpedo sank the Cheonan in late March near the Koreas’ western maritime border, killing 46 South Korean sailors.
North Korea, which denies any involvement in the sinking, has threatened to retaliate against South Korea and the US over the drills, which Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for an invasion.
“Our military and people will deal a merciless blow if warmongers stage reckless provocation,” North Korea’s government-run Web site, Uriminzokkiri, said in a commentary yesterday.
North Korea often makes such threats.
Meanwhile, South Korean and US troops recalled the Korean War yesterday, dressing in period uniforms to re-enact a crucial battle, including the blowing up of a bridge.
The battle took place in 1950 in a narrow area known as the Pusan Perimeter.
US and South Korean troops mounted a desperate defense against advancing North Korean soldiers that was crucial in turning the tide of the war.