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N. Korea prepping for drill against S. Korea-US exercise: source

All Headlines 11:18 July 21, 2014

SEOUL, July 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to be preparing for a large-scale landing operation involving all branches of its military in an apparent countermove against an upcoming Seoul-Washington military drill, a Seoul government source said Monday.

South Korea and the United States are slated to hold the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG), an annual joint combat readiness exercise, in August to test and improve their joint defense posture against the communist North's possible provocations.

"Signs have been detected from about three weeks ago that North Korea has been preparing for a large-scale landing exercise near the western port city of Nampo," a government source here said, asking not to be identified.

"It appears to be a national-level consolidated drill bringing together its ground, naval and air force troops. It likely aims at the planned exercise between South Korea and the U.S.," he added.

The unruly country has mobilized its weapons and other military equipment to the western coastal areas for the drill, he said, noting that its continued artillery firing seems to be related to the planned exercise.

"We've been taking a close look at the North's preparation move. In the case of the exercise in Nampo, North Korea carried out such a drill in March last year, and it appears that Pyongyang changed the plan in accordance with its leader Kim Jong-un's schedule," Seoul's defense ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok told a regular briefing.

As the latest in a series of its saber-rattling moves, North Korea last week fired about 100 artillery shells into the East Sea.
<YNAPHOTO path='C:/YNA/YNACLI~1/Down/Article/AEN20140721003400315_01_i.jpg' id='' title='' caption='North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attends a live-fire drill by a North Korean artillery unit near the eastern border with South Korea. North Korea&apos;s official Korean Central News Agency reported it on July 15, 2014, without elaborating on the timing of the visit. (Yonhap file photo) '/>

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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