North Korean Anger at US War Games Nothing New

Tensions Often Get Out of Hand, Officials Note

North Korea has issued a new round of statements surround their “powerful striking means,” and seems to be getting a lot of attention in doing so. It is hard to believe, but this entire row started the way so many others have, with North Korea condemning annual US-South Korea war games.

It really is annual too, both the war games and the anger at them. North Korean officials have been complaining about them for decades, all the way back to Kim Il Sung’s reign. Each year it gets bigger, and each year North Korea accuses them of being a prelude to invasion.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper noted that even if this appears to be the highest profile reaction in recent years, it’s by no means the worst US-North Korean relations have been since the war.

Speaking today, Clapper cited the 1968 capture of the USS Pueblo, which remains a tourist attraction in Pyongyang, and the 1976 Axe Murder Incident along the DMZ as examples of times when tensions were much worse.

Clapper’s comments were quickly rebuked by Congressional hawks, include Rep. Mike Rogers (R – MI), who accused him of “understating” the threat posed by North Korea.

He was just one of the officials commenting on the impossibility of the US getting nuke by North Korea, however. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was also quick with comments, on it being a “dangerous situation” but one that doesn’t pose any specific threat to the US.

Threats come and go and come again, at least where the US war games are concerned, but apart from officials looking to grandstand about the “threat,” it seems entirely probable that it will pass, as all the past incidents have.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.