North Korea is baring its teeth over upcoming U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises. On Wednesday, North Korea insisted that the two nations cancel their annual joint military drills, scheduled to begin in late February and continue into April, claiming that the drills would destroy inter-Korean relations. The two exercises, known as “Foal Eagle” and “Key Resolve,” are routine, but also are intended to deter threats from the north, as well as maintain combat readiness among the allied forces stationed along the demilitarized zone.
A statement released by the North Korean Central News Agency reads in part that the drills “will fatally destroy the inter-Korean relations and trigger unimaginable calamities and disasters.” A North Korean government insider further claimed that moving forward with the exercises would amount to a declaration of “full-scale nuclear war.”
A South Korean Ministry of Defense spokesperson, Kim Min Seok, answered the warning, claiming that "if North Korea commits military provocations by taking advantage of these routine exercises, [then] the military will retaliate severely and firmly."
While North Korea is prone to idle threats, the U.S.-South Korea bloc has been warier of leader Kim Jong Un in the wake of last year’s purging of Jang Song Thaek. Jang, Kim’s uncle and protector, as well as a lifetime DPRK political insider, was detained and swiftly executed on charges that he was attempting to overthrow the North Korean government. In a speech shortly after the execution, Kim derided his uncle as an “anti-Party, counterrevolutionary factionalist [who was removed] at an opportune time and with a correct decision.” Kim went on to praise the fact that Jang’s demise meant that the “party and revolutionary ranks were further consolidated and [their] single-hearted unity was solidified to the maximum.” The shake-up was considered a ruthless move by observers, suggesting a dangerous level of political instability in the bellicose, nuclear-capable nation.
As yet, Kim Jong Un fanboy Dennis Rodman hasn’t weighed in on the joint military drills.
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