S. Korean activists clamor for end to military exercise with U.S.

(Xinhua) 09:48, February 29, 2024

SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of South Korean peace activists on Wednesday clamored for an end to the Asian country's scheduled military exercise with the United States, which they said has served to escalate tensions on and around the Korean Peninsula.

The activists gathered at a square across the street from the U.S. embassy in central Seoul to demand stopping the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise Freedom Shield (FS), which this year is set to last from March 4 to 14.

Holding up banners and placards with the slogans "We want peace" and "Stop all military actions and hostilities that bring on war and restore dialogue channels", the participants shouted, "Stop the war-causing military action."

"There is no way to send the other party under the yoke through military means, military threats or a show of force. It rather continues to bring about military confrontations and increase the intensity of crisis," Lee Tae-ho, a participant of the peace rally, told Xinhua.

"Peace through power is a fiction. Instead of coercing the other party into submission through power, every problem should be solved through dialogue and negotiations by respecting the other party," Lee said.

The 11-day FS exercise will be conducted to increase the South Korea-U.S. combined readiness and strengthen their combined defensive posture based on scenarios that reflect diverse threats within the security environment, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement earlier in the day.

During the annual springtime war game, there will be a variety of combined field training exercises in sea, land and air to increase the interoperability and enhance the combined operation capabilities, the JCS noted.

Seoul and Washington have insisted that the joint drill is defensive in nature, but the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has denounced it as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion.

"A war crisis on the Korean Peninsula has reached its peak ... The intensity of provocative words and military actions that threaten each other is mounting amid the incessantly continuous South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises," the Korea Peace Appeal, an organizer of the peace rally, said in a statement.

It urged South Korea and the United States to stop all military exercises and hostilities and restore dialogue channels with the DPRK, stressing that the joint military exercises have raised military and political tensions on the peninsula.

"South Korea, the United States and Japan have (recently) intensified their military cooperation to the level of quasi-alliance. The strengthened military cooperation will deepen confrontations in Northeast Asia, making it more difficult to peacefully resolve the conflict on the peninsula," the organizer noted.

The Korea Peace Appeal is a campaign aiming to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War by collecting 100 million signatures, joined by over 370 South Korean civic and religious groups as well as over 70 international partner organizations.

The peninsula technically remains at war as the fratricidal war ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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