S. Korea conducts military exercises
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea conducted live-fire military drills from five islands near its disputed sea boundary with North Korea today, despite Pyongyang’s threat to attack.
South Korea reported no immediate action by North Korea following the drills, which ended after about two hours. The drills took place in an area of the Yellow Sea that was the target of a North Korean artillery attack in 2010 that killed four South Koreans and raised fears of a wider conflict.
The heightened tension comes two months after the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. His young son Kim Jong Un has taken the helm of the nation of 24 million.
South Korean military officials said they were ready to repel any attack. Residents on the front-line islands were asked to go to underground shelters before the drills started, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Before the drills began, North Korea said it would launch a “thousands-fold more severe” punishment than the 2010 shelling if South Korea conducted the drills.
North Korea is fully prepared for a “total war,” and the drills will lead to a “complete collapse” of ties between the Koreas, the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
Officials from North Korea and the United States are to meet this week in Beijing for talks on the country’s nuclear weapons program.
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