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North Korea condemns U.S. army relocation as 'evacuation'

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea condemns U.S. army relocation as 'evacuation'
Lt. General Thomas Vandal (C-R), commander of the U.S. Eighth Army in South Korea, and other participants cut the tape during a ceremony at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, on July 11. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA

July 18 (UPI) -- North Korea condemned the recent relocation of the U.S. 8th Army in South Korea, calling the move a provocation that is also a sign of U.S. cowardice, or an "evacuation."

Pyongyang's Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun claimed Tuesday the purpose of the U.S. military move from Yongsan in Seoul to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, was to prepare a strike against North Korea.

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"The merrymaking involved in the U.S. military base relocation exposes the U.S. intent to permanently occupy South Korea with invading forces," the newspaper stated in an article titled, "The root of trouble must be immediately removed."

"The treacherous goal [of the relocation] is to incite a North Korea invasion and push [South Korea] puppet forces to the frontline as bullet targets," the North Korean statement read.

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Pyeongtaek is about 40 miles south of Seoul.

"The reason the United States is stationing troops in Pyeongtaek near the sea, is to not only deploy a counterforce in the event of an emergency, but to also swiftly make a getaway if they reckon such a move would be an advantage," North Korea stated. "But that would be a miscalculation."

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"It would be a foolish delusion if the United States thinks that by evacuating the invading forces south of the Han River, they are prepared to flee," the Rodong stated. "Once we fire the first gun, our first target would be the U.S. invading forces."

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Pyongyang added the U.S. forces should be "driven out" of the peninsula, but did not mention the relocation had been underway for more than a decade, after an agreement was reached between the United States and South Korea.

The expansion of Camp Humphreys near Pyeongtaek cost $10.7 billion. South Korea provided most of the funding and labor for the project.

Seoul, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, is working on plans to turn the former Yongsan military base into a public park.

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