Puppet S Korea- Great Satan US Drill Begins as Tension Ease with North

The guided missile destroyer USS Lassen arrives as South Korean navy sailors wave flags at a naval port in Donghae

South Korea launched a military drill Monday with the United States against a simulated North Korean invasion, even as a recent easing of tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang gathered momentum.

Although the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill is largely played out on computers, it involves more than 80,000 South Korean and US troops and has repeatedly been condemned by Pyongyang as a provocative war rehearsal.

This year, however, the criticism from the North has been relatively muted as both Koreas focused on reopening a joint industrial zone that was closed in April at the height of a surge in military tensions on the divided peninsula.

After seven rounds of negotiations, the two rivals agreed last week on a framework for resuming operations at the Kaesong zone, which is an important hard currency earner for the impoverished North.
Building on that breakthrough, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye urged Pyongyang to “open its heart” and resume reunions – suspended three years ago – for families separated since the 1950-53 war.

The North on Sunday agreed to hold talks on the issue and also proposed re-starting South Korean tours to its Mount Kumgang resort.
The 10-day joint drill that kicked off Monday is relatively low key, with participating troops largely confined to barracks and no high-visibility land, sea or air manoeuvres.

Last month, the North’s ruling-party newspaper Rodong Sinmun warned that going ahead with the exercise could bring the peninsula “to the brink of war.”
Presiding over a meeting of her National Security Council on Monday, President Park stressed that Seoul could never afford to let its guard down.

“No matter how peaceful things are, a crisis would come if we forget about war,” her spokeswoman quoted Park as saying.
“It is very important to ensure firm security preparedness in any circumstances,” Park said.

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