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This year’s drills, in which troops will train on land, sea and in the air, are expected to last until about April.

Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor of North Korea studies at Korea University in South Korea, said he doesn’t expect as much tension as last year.

North Korea is maintaining its nuclear weapons program but hasn’t launched any fresh provocation, so this year’s drills would be more like the routine ones they conducted in previous years,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Kim Hyung-jin contributed to this report.