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South Korea and the United States have initiated their large annual military exercises to enhance preparedness against North Korea’s nuclear threats following an uptick in missile tests and aggressive statements by the North.

The exercises, known as the Freedom Shield exercise, involve computer-simulated command post training and various field exercises over an 11-day period, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry. These maneuvers aim to strengthen the allies’ defense capabilities in response to potential provocations from the North, which views these drills as a pretext for invasion.


North Korea, which has historically reacted to such joint military activities with weapon tests, has yet to respond to the commencement of this year’s drills. The increase in the number and scale of these exercises, including 48 field exercises featuring live-firing, bombing, air assault, and missile interception drills, marks a significant escalation in the allied forces’ preparation efforts. This ramp-up comes as North Korea has intensified its own military activities, launching over 100 missile tests since early 2022 to advance its weapons arsenal amidst stalled diplomatic efforts with the US and South Korea.

In a recent demonstration of its military capabilities, North Korea executed six rounds of missile tests and numerous artillery firing drills this year. Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, has also shifted the country’s stance from seeking peaceful unification with South Korea to adopting a more aggressive military approach, including threats of annihilation toward South Korea and the US.


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