Washington and Seoul will kick off live-action military drills in Korea on Monday. North Korea views the exercises as highly provocative rehearsals of removing the government in Pyongyang. The US canceled live war games with South Korea in 2018.
The military drills, dubbed Ulchi Freedom Shield, will involve thousands of soldiers and last about two weeks. Bloomberg reports, "although official details have yet to be released, the drills are likely to involve warships, aircraft and armored vehicles."
President Donald Trump abandoned live military exercises with Seoul during a period of warming relations with Pyongyang. In response to the US scaling back war games and other signs of good faith, North Korea ceased missile tests, dismantled some testing sites and removed some military positions along the DMZ.
Since taking office, President Joe Biden has increased the American military presence in the Pacific, mainly in the name of great power competition with China. However, North Korea views the US military as an aggressive force with the aim of regime change in the DPRK. After Washington signed a trilateral pact with Seoul and Tokyo in May, Pyongyang denounced the move as the US attempting to create a NATO-style alliance in Asia.
In response to failed diplomacy with the Trump administration and increased military pressure from the Biden White House, Kim’s government has conducted a record number of missile tests in 2022. US officials have speculated for several months that North Korea is preparing to test a nuclear weapon. Pyongyang has tested six nuclear weapons in the past, with the last detonation carried out in 2017. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Seoul and Washington would react sternly if Pyongyang conducted a nuclear weapon test.