North Korea

Mild rebuke over South Korea-US drills as Pyongyang takes diplomatic option

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 12:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 August, 2013, 5:25am

North Korea yesterday criticised South Korea-US military drills with milder-than-usual language that was seen as a sign of its interest in keeping up diplomacy.

North Korea typically speaks with war-like rhetoric against such exercises because it considers them a rehearsal for invasion. But it has not made any harsh statements against the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills that began on Monday.

Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea yesterday broke the country's earlier silence and called the training "big anti-[North Korea] war drills" and warned South Korea could face an unspecified "uncontrollably catastrophic consequence".

An unidentified North Korean committee spokesman also accused South Korea's president, Park Geun-hye, of making "bellicose remarks" on Monday by calling for a military readiness to ensure peace. The spokesman said via state media that Park's comments "chill the hard-won atmosphere for dialogue" between the Koreas.

Park's office did not confirm the comments attributed to her, but the South's Unification Ministry called the North's criticism of the drills "the same old" rhetoric and urged the country to act responsibly.

North Korea has in the past made threats of nuclear wars during drills between the allies.