North Korea on Saturday denounced large-scale military exercises under way in South Korea as a “very dangerous preliminary war for invasion,” demanding the South halt the drills immediately or face “catastrophic consequences.”
South Korea launched the Hoguk exercises across the country on Thursday for a nine-day run. On Friday, thousands of troops conducted maneuvers off the country’s northernmost island of Baengnyeong near the tense western sea border with North Korea.
The exercises “are a very dangerous preliminary war for invasion of the DPRK (North Korea) as they may go over to an actual war anytime,” the North’s Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in an “information bulletin” carried by Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency.
“Their frantic moves for confrontation and war against the DPRK will only hasten their own destruction. The South Korean authorities should stop at once the reckless military actions, clearly mindful of catastrophic consequences to be entailed by their scheme to provoke a war,” it said.
North Korea routinely denounces military drills in the South as a rehearsal for a northward invasion. South Korea rejects the claims, saying its exercises are purely defensive to guard against the provocative communist nation..
Last year, the North torpedoed a South Korean warship and shelled the South’s border island of Yeonpyeong, killing a combined total of 50 people and driving relations between the sides to the lowest point in decades.