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South Korean pacifists have added their voices to opponents of the nation’s joint military exercises with the United States currently under way, with a demonstration in Seoul.
The North’s increasingly belligerent tone, probing for weaknesses in the South’s newly-elected female president, and on the heels of tougher UN sanctions triggered by its third nuclear test, did not seem to figure in the protesters’ calculations. That is not the case at the defence ministry.
“Although North Korea has been repeatedly announcing threatening statements, the South Korean army is getting fully prepared to retaliate, in case of any provocation from the North,” said spokesman Kim Min-seok.
North Korea has condemned the two-week long joint exercises, and in its latest hardening of position has severed the emergency Red Cross hotline between the capitals.
The North claims the wargames, dubbed “Key Resolve” are “rehearsals for invasion”, and it has reinforced its troops along its border. Soldiers there have been cheered by visits from their leader, Kim Jong-un, and large crowds of conscripts have been filmed lionising him at every turn.