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Annual Ulchi civil defence drill scheduled to commence

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Annual Ulchi civil defence drill scheduled to commence

A defense exercise between the American and South Korean military will take place in the wake of North Korean missile launches.
Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

South Korea’s 54th Ulchi civil defense exercise is set to begin today.

In the largest joint military training exercise between the United States and South Korea, troops will participate in a number of field exercises. The exercise had been scaled down during the leadership of former presidents Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in who pursued a policy of detente with North Korea. Increased cooperation between the US and South Korea by way of the revamping of the Ulchi defense exercise comes as North Korea continues to conduct weapons tests.

Earlier this week, North Korea launched two cruise missiles. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol responded by offering development assistance to Pyongyang in exchange for denuclearization. North Korean displays of its expanding arsenal have also pushed South Korea towards a closer security relationship with Japan which may lead to the revival of information exchange agreements. 

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North Korea is likely to be angered by the exercises and by increased cooperation between the US, South Korea and Japan. Pyongyang may use the joint exercises as justification for further weapons testing. In the medium term, expect closer relations between South Korea, Japan and the US to draw China’s attention and create tensions between Beijing and Seoul.

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