North Korea Vows to Bolster Navy as South Korea Holds Joint Military Drills With US, Japan

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
August 30, 2023Worldshare
North Korea Vows to Bolster Navy as South Korea Holds Joint Military Drills With US, Japan
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks as he visits the Naval Command of the Korean People's Army (KPA) on the occasion of the Navy Day, in North Korea, in this picture released by North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and obtained by Reuters on Aug. 29, 2023. (KCNA via Reuters)

As the United States, South Korea, and Japan staged joint naval missile defense drills off the Korean peninsula on Tuesday, North Korea denounced the “gangster bosses” of Washington and its allies for increasing the risk of nuclear war.

According to South Korea’s military, the joint military exercises served to improve the allies’ ability to detect missile attacks, track targets, and share information in the event of provocation by Pyongyang.

The exercises took place in international waters off South Korea’s southern Jeju island.

South Korea and the United States last week undertook their largest-ever joint military drills, the Ulchi Freedom Shield summer exercises, prompting North Korea to conduct a test, firing a cruise missile from one of its ships.

Criticizing the increased presence of U.S. strategic assets in the region, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for “radically” modernizing the weapons and equipment of his country’s naval forces, including shipboard and underwater weapons systems.

During its broadcast on North Korea’s Navy Day, the state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Mr. Kim saying that the “gangster bosses” of the United States, Japan, and South Korea announced regular joint military exercises—apparently referring to an Aug. 18 summit at Camp David, Maryland.

“Owing to the reckless confrontational moves of the U.S. and other hostile forces, the waters off the Korean Peninsula have been reduced to the world’s biggest war hardware concentration spot, the most unstable waters with the danger of a nuclear war,” Mr. Kim said.

U.S. President Joe Biden (C) welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R), and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to Camp David, Md., for a Trilateral Summit on Aug. 18, 2023. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

In the first standalone meeting between the leaders of the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, the three nations agreed to deepen military and economic cooperation as they sought to project unity in the face of China’s growing military presence in East Asian seas and North Korea’s increasing nuclear threats.

Japan said sharing information on ballistic missiles was part of Tuesday’s drills.

“The exercises will strongly facilitate trilateral cooperation and demonstrate the commitment of Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea to protect a free and open international order based on the rule of law,” Japan’s defense ministry said in a statement.

As part of the exercises, the allies’ special operations units practiced infiltrating an enemy’s coastline from the sea.

NTD Photo
Members of U.S. Special Operations Command Korea and South Korea’s Army Special Warfare Command participate in a joint maritime infiltration training as part of the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise in Yangyang on Aug. 28, 2023. (Kim Hong-Ji/AFP via Getty Images)

South Korea and the United States joint Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises that began last week focused on enhancing joint responses to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats on a multitude of levels, including cyber, terror, and drone attacks, as well as how to parry disinformation campaigns by the North.

Pyongyang has long denounced the regularly occurring military drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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