President Park Geun-hye cautioned Tuesday against complacency in annual exercises meant to boost capabilities in managing national contingencies amid tensions over North Korea’s missiles and nuclear weapons programs.
Park instructed officials to hold the Ulchi exercises in preparation for possible threats from North Korea as well as various disasters, potential terrorist attacks or fires.
“We should hold drills to make sure that measures will be taken immediately” in case of national contingencies, Park said in a Cabinet meeting.
South Korea launched the four-day annual exercises on Monday.
|President Park Geun-hye holds a National Security Council meeting at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday, the second day of the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise. The annual training exercise, involving the South Korean and U.S. militaries as well as civilian and government elements, will be held until Aug. 29. (Cheong Wa Dae)|
The drills have been held every year following North Korea’s botched attempt in 1968 to assassinate then-President Park Chung-hee ― the father of current President Park ― by sending a group of commandos near South Korea’s presidential office.
The four-day drills coincide with annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, which North Korea condemns as a rehearsal for an invasion.
Seoul and Washington have repeatedly said such exercises are purely defensive in nature.
On Sunday, the North’s military vowed to launch “the strongest, most merciless preemptive attacks of our own style” against the allies over the Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
On Monday, North Korea’s foreign ministry also said the country will take self-defensive counteractions and take steps at a higher level in the future that “no one will be able to predict” as long as the “nuclear war maneuvers go on to stifle Pyongyang.”
The latest harsh rhetoric came days after North Korea fired five short-range rockets into the sea off the country’s east coast, the latest show of force against Seoul and Washington. (Yonhap)