Skip to main content

North Korea slams use of its flag in U.S.-South Korean military drills

By K.J. Kwon, CNN
June 26, 2012 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The United States and South Korea hold a joint military exercises
  • A North Korean flag is used in the live-fire drills
  • Pyongyang says that constitutes a grave provocation
  • South Korea says the flag was to mark territory and was not used as a target

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea has reacted angrily to the use of its flag during live-fire drills by South Korea and the United States, calling it "a grave provocative act."

The comments from Pyongyang on Sunday came after the allies held military drills last week less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the North Korean border, involving more than 2,000 military personnel.

An unidentified North Korean foreign ministry spokesman accused South Korea and the United States of firing "live bullets and shells" at the flag, according to a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The act was "the most vivid expression of their hostile policy," the spokesman said.

The North Korean flag was put on an elevated hill but was not directly used as a target during the exercises, an official for the South Korean Defense Ministry said, declining to be identified.

"It was used only as a symbol of North Korean territory and the drill was a defensive one," he added.

N. Korea defector: 'A foolish decision'
N. Korea's Kim alters style, not policy
N. Korea mob dismembers S. Korea effigy

More than 230 military weapons were used in the U.S.-South Korean exercises on Tuesday and Friday last week, including newly upgraded attack helicopters and artillery.

The use of the flag is clearly a provocation for North Korean officials, who will take it as an insult to their identity and dignity, said Choi Jong-kun, a professor at Yonsei University.

North Korea slams joint drill among U.S., Japan and South Korea

"They are not likely to respond physically, but they will definitely capitalize this opportunity for the future," he added.

Pyongyang nonetheless used the military drills as an opportunity to remind Seoul and Washington of its nuclear weapons program.

The North "will further bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defence as long as the U.S., the world's biggest nuclear weapons state, persists in its hostile policy," KCNA cited the Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.

South Korea said last month that satellite images suggested that North Korea was ready to carry out a fresh nuclear test but that the reclusive state was awaiting a "political decision" on whether or not to go ahead.

Many analysts assume an atomic test by North Korea is just a matter of time following the failure of a controversial rocket launch in April. Two previous rocket launches in 2006 and 2009 were followed weeks or months later by nuclear tests.

The two Koreas are still technically at war since the 1950-53 conflict that left the Korean Peninsula divided along a heavily militarized border. The United States has tens of thousands of troops stationed in South Korea.

The live-fire drills were part of a series of military exercises last week, including a trilateral naval drill between the United States, South Korea and Japan.

Clinton says young North Korean leader 'has a choice'

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0307 GMT (1107 HKT)
President Barack Obama says he doesn't consider North Korea's hack of Sony Pictures "an act of war."
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 2243 GMT (0643 HKT)
The U.S. has asked China for help battling North Korean hacking of American information systems, a senior administration official tells CNN.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Alex Gladstein, director of institutional affairs at Human Rights Foundation, says he'd like "to disrupt North Korea and help end the Kim regime's monopoly of knowledge."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
North Korea's fury over the movie comedy "The Interview" appears to have taken the secretive state's oversensitivity to new extremes.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2336 GMT (0736 HKT)
CNN's Brian Todd looks into the possibility of whether North Korea received help from freelancers or other countries.
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT)
A retired Silicon Valley executive and Korean War veteran was hauled off his plane at Pyongyang in 2013. Here's what happened next.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
A recent defector from North Korea tells of the harrowing escape into China via Chinese 'snakehead' gangs.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
CNN's Amara Walker speaks to a former North Korean prison guard about the abuses he witnessed and was forced to enact on prisoners.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0559 GMT (1359 HKT)
The chief of the Commission of Inquiry into North Korea's human rights says the world can no longer plead ignorance to the regime's offenses.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
Kim Jong Il's former bodyguard tells of the beatings and starvation he endured while imprisoned in the country's most notorious prison camp.
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 0543 GMT (1343 HKT)
Despite tense relations, China benefits from Kim Jong Un's rule in North Korea. David McKenzie explains.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 0851 GMT (1651 HKT)
North Korea has "the world's most advantageous human rights system" and citizens have "priceless political integrity", the country declared.
ADVERTISEMENT