S. Korea suspends government training to spur inter-Korean rapprochement

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-07-10 14:32 Updated : 2018-07-10 14:32
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[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- South Korea announced the suspension of this year's Ulchi summer exercise, which has been held annually to test the war preparedness of government bodies, in a bid to spur an inter-Korean thaw created by North Korea's peace offensive.

The Ulchi exercise has involved some 480,000 people at 4,000 government offices and public bodies. It was part of Ulch-Freedom Guardian, a command post exercise based on computer-simulated war games.

The move was in line with Washington's decision to suspend the Freedom Guardian joint military exercise that followed a landmark summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore. Trump said the suspension of "provocative" war games was aimed at facilitating a nuclear deal with North Korea.

"At today's cabinet meeting, the government decided to temporarily suspend this year's government exercises in accordance with the recent security situation and the postponement of a joint exercise between the United States and South Korea," said Interior and Safety Minister Kim Boo-kyum.

South Korean began staging an independent government exercise code-named Taeguk after a failed North Korean commando attack on the office of then president Park Chung-hee in 1968. Its title was changed to Ulchi later and integrated with Freedom Guardian in 2008.

Minister Kim said the government would develop a broad form of training next year to cope with terrorism, disasters and armed attacks from outside.

There are about 28,000 US troops stationed in South Korea. Extra US military assets and personnel come from abroad for regular joint drills. In their summit in April, Moon and Kim agreed to cease all acts of hostilities against the other side and work on establishing a permanent peace regime.