- The Washington Times - Monday, August 12, 2019

North Korea is intensifying its criticism of South Korea as joint U.S.-South Korea military drills enter their second week, with Pyongyang accusing the South of acting like a “shy dog barking more wildly.”

The North’s state media used that and other rhetoric Sunday to express frustration over the drills, describing them as an “aggressive war exercise” and asserting that inter-Korean dialogue will remain suspended until South Korea offers a “plausible excuse” for the exercises.

According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, a statement by North Korea’s foreign ministry also used at least one obscenity in reference to the annual drills, which U.S. and South Korean officials have renamed this year in an apparent attempt to ease Pyongyang’s fears that the drills are a rehearsal for invasion.

Stars and Stripes reported that the drills began on Aug. 5 and were being kept low-key to avoid provoking North Korea, which previously threatened it could derail the Trump administration’s efforts to resume stalled nuclear talks with the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The command-post training — as military officials are calling it to avoid using the word “exercise” — will last until Aug. 20 and will mainly involve computer-simulated scenarios as opposed to past years when those were combined with combat field training, according to officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity with Stars and Stripes.

The U.S. has roughly 30,000 military personnel stationed in South Korea.

President Trump has taken a cautious posture toward the drills, saying last week that he’s “never been a fan” of them and expressing frustration over their cost.

Stars and Stripes noted that North Korea has continued to criticize the drills despite the name and format changes and has conducted several short-range ballistic missile tests over the past two weeks in what was widely seen as a protest.

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