Tensions rise as Seoul prepares for war games

Elias Hubbard
August 22, 2017

About 17,500 USA troops will take part.

These commuters were seen going about their daily lives beneath a huge mural of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in a Pyongyang subway station.

North Korea has sent another threat America's way warning of a "merciless strike" ahead of joint military drills between the United States and South Korea.

"Sometimes it's better to leave them in their fundamental training mode rather than being out on the ground waiting for orders as staffs are learning how to work together", he said.

"The joint exercise is the most explicit expression of hostility against us, and no one can guarantee that the exercise won't evolve into actual fighting", said an editorial carried by the North's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper. The KPA is keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies.

North Korea had threatened to fire a missile into the waters off Guam, a U.S. territory that holds two major U.S. military bases.

Dozens of South Koreans protested against the joint drill in front of the USA embassy in Seoul demanding peace on the Korean peninsula.

Britain's involvement in the games has been kept quiet amid fears the United Kingdom could be dragged into a war of words between North Korea and President Donald Trump.

Last week, President Donald Trump warned of "fire and fury", if North Korea continued to issue "threats". The number of troops involved is because of the focus of this year's exercise - command and control - and not in response to any factor from North Korea, he explained.

The North said the Guam missile strike could be reinstated in the event of "reckless actions" by Washington, and analysts say the exercise could become an alarming flash point.

About 17,500 USA service members are participating in the joint exercise, down from 25,000 past year, Reuters reported, citing the Pentagon. Many of them will be joining thousands of South Korean forces in the exercises.

During this year's war games in March, North Korea launched four extended-range Scud missiles into the sea in what it described as a rehearsal for striking US military bases in Japan.

Despite inflamed tensions and a volley of threats in recent weeks, South Korea, the United States and the UK will go ahead with the exercise today, sparking fears Kim Jon Un could respond by firing missiles.

The US and South Korea were not moved to scale back their annual exercises as a result, though China, an important supporter of North Korea and therefore a very important player in the crisis, suggested a hiatus of the war games in exchange for a testing break.

"If South Korea really wants no war on the Korean Peninsula, it should try to stop this military exercise".

"North Korea should not exaggerate our efforts to keep peace nor should they engage in provocations that would worsen the situation, using (the exercise) as an excuse", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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