F-15K fighter jets were deployed in joint U.S.-South Korea exercises, North Korean state media said Tuesday. File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE
April 28 (UPI) -- North Korea denounced the United States and South Korea for conducting joint drills last week in response to increased North Korean flight activity.
Pyongyang propaganda service Uriminzokkiri claimed Tuesday the coalition training was fanning the "fever of war" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"The South Korean military is currently conducting war exercises, such as combined air training and the Pohang joint landing training," North Korean state media said.
Uriminzokkiri also said the joint exercises involved the deployment of South Korea's F-15K and KF-16 jet fighters and the United States' F-16 aircraft.
During the joint landing operation drill, U.S. and South Korean military exercised with more than 300 troops operating armored vehicles, Pyongyang said.
South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo had said drills were necessary because of an uptick in North Korean military activity.
"North Korea's inspections of artillery-focused combat readiness and the North Korean air force's flight activities are increasing, leading to increased military tension," Jeong had said.
Pyongyang's media denied the joint exercises were for defense purposes.
"These are extremely reckless and provocative practices for war, aimed at our republic," Uriminzokkiri said. "Just as an alligator cannot become a goldfish by putting on a disguise, saying [the exercises] are for defense is not fitting for warmongers."
North Korea's condemnation of the drills comes at a time when Kim Jong Un remains out of the public eye, encouraging wild speculation about his condition following unconfirmed reports of heart surgery and ill health.
North Korean restaurant workers in China who spoke to Yonhap claimed Kim's health is "good," as their establishments reopen and the coronavirus pandemic could be subsiding in China.
According to Yonhap's China correspondent, North Korea-run restaurants in the northeastern city of Shenyang are operating again, possibly in violation of international sanctions.
China has claimed it is complying with international resolutions against North Korea for nuclear weapons development.