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US and Korean militaries to conduct crisis management exercise


US and Korean militaries to conduct crisis management exercise

South Korea
Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The US and South Korean militaries will conduct a crisis management exercise today ahead of further joint military exercises later this month.

The two states regularly hold exercises in the spring and summer—a scaled down exercise was last held in March. The drills frequently draw North Korean criticism, which argues that they are a precursor to war. Kim Yo Jong, sister of Northern leader Kim Jong Un, vowed August 1 that this month’s exercises would damage inter-Korean relations. While the North’s accusations would not usually be prohibitive, they received significant attention following the recent restoration of previously severed communication lines between the Koreas, leading to speculation about the drill’s possible cancellation.

The start of today’s crisis exercise demonstrates that South Korea still prioritizes Washington’s guidance in its Northern relations. They also squash rumors that North Korea’s decision to restore the hotlines will push Seoul to convince Washington to make concessions while US-NK talks stall. However, continued US-South Korean military cooperation undermines President Moon Jae-in’s desire for greater reconciliation, and likely will result in propagandic vitriol from Pyongyang and a tit-for-tat retaliation, like a missile test. Yet, militaristic aggression from the North will likely further stall talks on all fronts.

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