North Korea has threatened to retaliate against any actions it perceives to be hostile during the annual joint military exercise scheduled for February and March between the United States, Japan, and South Korea on the Korean peninsula.
"We sternly warn the U.S. and the South Korean authorities to stop the dangerous military exercises which may push the situation on the peninsula and the north-south ties to a catastrophe," the North's KCNA state news quoted a body in charge of efforts to promote Korean unification as saying, Reuters reported
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The North Korean provocation is reminiscent of last year's escalation between the powers, in which the North claimed such annual drills were potentially a prelude to invasion, considering there are nearly 30,000 U.S. troops stationed in the South.
In response to North Korea's threat, South Korea issued similar rhetoric this week.
"If North Korea actually commits military aggression at the excuse of what is a normal exercise we conduct as preparation for emergency, our military will mercilessly and decisively punish them," South Korean Defense Ministry Spokesman Kim Min-seok said.
In a strange twist this year, however, the totalitarian North Korean regime, led by 31-year-old Kim Jong Un, offered a Lunar New Year truce to South Korea in hostilities, provocations, and mutual criticism.
"We propose formally to the authorities of the South that on the occasion of the Lunar New Year holiday beginning on January 30, both sides take substantive steps of halting actions that provoke and criticize the other," the National Defense Commission, led by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said, according to the KCNA news agency.
"We propose substantive steps that halt all military hostile actions against the other," the commission said, adding they should include the halt of the annual military drills, Reuters reported.
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