South Korea to hold largest drills close to North Korea

42817.jpegSouth Korea will hold its largest land and air winter drills Thursday in an area adjacent to North Korea, the South Korean army said Wednesday.

The drills are planned as tensions between the two countries remain high. But these drills were scheduled in 2009, well before the November shelling of a South Korean island by North Korea, army officials said, according to CNN reports.

Fighter aircraft, self-propelled guns and about 800 military personnel will take part in the exercise at Pocheon, 31 kilometers (19.5 miles) from the border, said a spokesman at the Joint Chiefs of Staff who declined to be named, citing policy.

South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin has said the military will remain on alert even after the Dec. 20 artillery drill ended without retaliation from North Korea.

North Korea said it doesn't need to respond to all military provocations, calling the drill "a childish play with fire of cowards," the official Korean Central News Agency reported early this week.

Separately, South Korean marines began routine maneuvers today in waters near the eastern sea border with North Korea, a defense ministry official said, Bloomberg says.


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