The North Korean government has renewed its call for upcoming U.S.-South Korean war games to be called off. The exercises, known as “Foal Eagle” and “Key Resolve” are planned to run from February to April and will include land, sea, and air drills.
According to North Korean authorities, the U.S. is planning to invade the country, thereby establishing a foothold that the American government can use to control all of Asia. “It is the strategic goal of the U.S. to invade the DPRK, bring its neighboring countries under its control with it as a stepping-stone and, furthermore, dominate the whole Asia-Pacific region,” the ruling party’s Rodong Sinmun said in an analysis on Monday. “The U.S. is working hard to kick off large-scale joint military drills this year, too, for the purpose of mounting a pre-emptive nuclear attack upon the DPRK.” North Korea largely views South Korea, where 30,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed, as a puppet state of the U.S.
A statement released by the North Korean Central News Agency earlier this month declared that the drills would “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.”
Other DPRK emissaries have been somewhat less aggressive. The North Korean ambassador to China, Ji Jae Ryong, offered a more conciliatory line at a news conference on Wednesday, claiming that North Korea wants to reduce tensions to allow steps toward eventual unification between North and South. “First, we propose taking preparatory measures in response to the warm call for creating an atmosphere for improving North-South ties. In this regard, we officially propose the South Korean authorities take critical measures of halting acts of provoking and slandering the other side from Jan. 30,” Ji said.
While some have read this softer tone as a so-called “charm offensive” meant to cast North Korea as eager for peace and diplomacy, Daniel Pinkston, a political analyst based in Seoul, South Korea, sees it as deft propaganda. “It’s a way of showing the domestic audience that, ‘we made a serious overture. We tried to bend over backwards. But they showed their true colors.’ I don’t see any cooperative measures or charm offensive at all,” said Pinkston.
Neither the U.S. nor South Korea have indicated any intention at curtailing the annual drills.
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