South Korea’s defense ministry on Monday confirmed reports that the country’s military had decided to postpone a round of planned maritime live-fire drills due to adverse weather conditions.
Local media outlets on Sunday reported that the exercises — set to involve the ROK Army, Navy, and Air Force and due to take place on Tuesday on the Uljin coast in North Gyeongsang Province — had been temporarily called off.
“The drills this time has been postponed due to bad weather,” Ministry of National Defense (MND) spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo told reporters on Monday, confirming the military had been set to hold a round of “maritime shooting drills.”
“The maritime situation, with the current weather conditions, makes it hard to hold the exercise… at the [training] site,” she explained.
The precise date of the drills was not intended to be public knowledge, Choi continued, but the MND had felt compelled to raise it due to “distorted reports” regarding the reason for their postponement.
Local newspaper the Joongang Ilbo first reported on the drill’s cancellation Sunday evening, suggesting it had been postponed due to South Korean government concerns about angering the North.
“Some are pointing out that [the military’s decision to postpone] is an act to tiptoe around North Korea,” the Joongang reported, casting doubt on the MND’s argument that they can been called off due to adverse weather conditions.
The Sekye Ilbo also reported Sunday, quoting an unnamed source, that the drill was set to involve assets including the Chunmoo MLRS (multiple launch rocket system), K-9 self-propelled artillery, naval vessels, and the Air Force’s FA-50 light attack aircraft.
But the Joongang Ilbo reported the postponement was linked to a meeting between the South Korean military and the Presidential Office of National Security.
That meeting reportedly took place on May 8, in the wake of a rare statement from North Korea’s military condemning a recent round of military drills by the South and accusing Seoul of violating the 2018 Inter-Korean military agreement.
Following that statement, the Joongang and Sekye Ilbo suggested on Sunday, the military had decided to adjust the drills.
The MND today dismissed that reporting as “not accurate,” stressing that “writing accurate articles is journalists’ duty.”
The ministry spokesperson “expressed regret” about the reports, adding that the government will ask the outlets to issue a correction.
“We express regret [that the report] distorted the military’s usual decision-making procedure as if another factor [other than weather conditions] was at play… causing unnecessary security anxiety and weakening the people’s trust in their military,” Choi said.
Asked whether the military had set other potential dates for the drill, the spokesperson responded “May 22 or 20.”
“However, I understand that situation [on the two dates] are also not good,” she added.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
South Korea's defense ministry on Monday confirmed reports that the country's military had decided to postpone a round of planned maritime live-fire drills due to adverse weather conditions.
Local media outlets on Sunday reported that the exercises -- set to involve the ROK Army, Navy, and Air Force and due to take place on Tuesday on the Uljin coast in North Gyeongsang Province -- had been temporarily called off.