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Military says annual defense drill is defensive in nature amid NK criticism

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Thursday an annual military exercise under way across the country is defensive in nature after North Korean propaganda outlets denounced it as an intolerable provocation.

South Korea kicked off the Hoguk exercise on Oct. 19, involving the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, staging various programs including joint landing drills.

On Monday, DPRK Today, one of the North's propaganda websites, bristled at the exercise, saying it represents "yet another blunt provocation against us, an intolerable, rash behavior that will exacerbate the already sensitive situation."

Uriminzokkiri, another propaganda outlet, ran a similar article last week.

"The Hoguk exercise is a defensive drill we carry out in the second half every year that centers on maintaining our military readiness posture and improving joint operations capabilities," JCS spokesperson Col. Kim Jun-rak said during a regular press briefing.

Launched in 1996, the exercise has been held on an annual basis in the second half of each year amid persisting nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. This year's exercise will wrap up Friday.

The Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)

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