A smattering of today’s headlines from Yonhap, South Korea’s largest news agency.
SEOUL/TOKYO, April 25 (Yonhap) — Senior officials of South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed at a meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday to take unbearably strong punitive action against North Korea if the communist country launches a fresh military provocation, the South Korean participant said.
The three countries' chief negotiators on the North Korean nuclear issue held a meeting earlier in the day to coordinate their responses to advancing nuclear and missile threats by North Korea. Kim Hong-kyun, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the foreign ministry, represented the South Korean side, vis-a-vis his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Joseph Yun and Kenji Kanasugi.
SEOUL, April 25 (Yonhap) — South Korea's Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn warned North Korea Tuesday that it would face “strong measures” different from the past should it press ahead with another provocation.
Hwang made the remarks amid growing concerns that the communist state could conduct a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile launch to mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People's Army.
SEOUL, April 25 (Yonhap) — North Korea staged what appears to be the largest firing drill on Tuesday to mark the 85th founding anniversary of its military, a government source said.
“Signs are detected that North Korea's military is conducting a large-scale drill around the eastern port city of Wonsan on the anniversary,” the source said.
SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) — A U.S. submarine is set to join the USS Carl Vinson in drills near the Korean Peninsula, South Korean military officials said Monday.
“The nuclear-powered submarine USS Michigan will enter the waters off the peninsula soon or later to jointly conduct drills with the USS Carl Vinson,” a military official told Yonhap News Agency.
Note: the USS Michigan is an Ohio-class SSGN, used for TLAM (Tomahawk) strikes; when fully stocked it carries 154 missiles.
Now we turn to North Korea, with Rimjingang, a magazine of undercover journalists reporting from North Korea:
Q: How is the drill going on?
– Surveillance by turns in trenches. The reserve army dig the trenches and live there. Sometimes they can’t go back home. I think this is more serious than the previous preparation for the quasi state of war (the North Korean government put on alert after the nuclear test on February 2013). Even though the members of reserve army are mostly factory laborers, they are ordered to continue drills, not allowed to go back to their factories as the situation is so serious. Anti aircraft guns with live ammunitions are ready to shoot at any time if order given. Authority was given to officers to shoot drones at their discretion. There will be a live ammunition drill of Red Army of Laborers and Peasants tomorrow.
Q: It must be hard time for the mobilized people.
– Needless to say, it is strenuous. The members of the Reserve Army should prepare half of foods needed by themselves for the period of the drill. It is tough! As the tension is seriously mounting at this time, the excuse of sick leave is not allowed. No exception for everybody. An officer who had a key for an arsenal was 30 minutes late. He was fired at the site immediately. It was warlike atmosphere. As the authority is making a great fuss that a war is imminent, many people say “If so, it should be really good that a war breaks.” Close acquaintances at market agree with the saying, “Isn’t it better to wage a war than to live like this?” It should be those in the upper level who would suffer the most.
The reference to shooting down drones concerns this earlier report:
The North Korean government is said to start a joint drill of civilians and military to shoot down sneaking drones in their sky from March 14. They are so highly on alert for the infiltrating drones that ammunitions are distributed and a reporting system related to the drones is newly set up. (Kang Ji-won)
The contents of the drill is observing, finding, reporting, and shooting drones. Participating units are Reserve Army of Laborer and Peasants, Reserve Forces, Youth Red Guard and military forces in the area.