North Korea quiet as U.S., South Korea exercises to resume

Aug. 17 (UPI) — North Korea is keeping silent ahead of U.S.-South Korea military exercises this week.

On Monday, North Korea’s Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun highlighted instead state-led efforts in flood cleanup and recovery in North Hwanghae Province, in a village Kim Jong Un visited earlier in the month.

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“Dear Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong Un has once again given his enormous love to the people of Taechongri, Unpa County, so that they may overcome the natural disasters,” the Rodong stated.

Kim has sent medicines and “remain concerned of even the minor inconveniences” of North Korean villagers affected by floods, state media said.

Last week, North Korea said soldiers were deployed to assist the villagers with cleanup efforts.

Ri Il Hwan, identified as a vice chairman of the Workers’ Party’s central committee, said authorities expect to “provide a stable life for residents of the affected areas” by Oct. 10, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling party.

The Rodong also said authorities in Pyongyang continue to enforce emergency measures to combat the coronavirus. In July, North Korea claimed a defector who fled the South was a suspected COVID-19 patient, and authorities reportedly locked down the city of Kaesong. North Korea never confirmed the suspected case of COVID-19 and on Friday Kim lifted the lockdown measures for Kaesong.

North Korea has yet to respond to a speech delivered by South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Saturday on Korea’s Liberation Day.

Moon had stressed the importance of humanitarian cooperation and suggested the resumption of inter-Korea family reunions, News 1 reported.

The joint U.S.-South Korea exercises to be held this week are to be reduced in scale due to the coronavirus pandemic. The drills are to focus mostly on computerized simulations, according to Seoul’s military.

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