A Step Towards Peace: End US-South Korea Military Exercises

March 6th, 2021 - by Statement by June 15 US Committee for Reunification of Korea

A Call to Halt US-South Korea Military Exercises

Statement by June 15 US Committee for Reunification of Korea

(March 3, 2021) — We strongly urge the US and South Korean governments to cease the US-ROK joint military exercises!

In 2018, all South, North, and Overseas Koreans, as well as the whole world, rejoiced as we realized peace on the Korean Peninsula that was unprecedented in its 70-year history of division. This achievement came because the inter-Korean summit’s Panmunjom Declaration and the North Korea-US summit’s Singapore Declaration showed us hope for the real possibility of peace, joint prosperity, self-determined reunification of Korea, as well as the end to hostilities and a new reality for North Korea-US relations.

But now, in less than three years, the South Korean and US governments are forcing their plan to resume the explicitly hostile US-ROK joint military exercises, which undermine the agreements made in both the Panmunjom and the Singapore Declarations. The South Korean and US governments are causing South, North, and Overseas Koreans, as well as peace advocates of the US and the world to feel deep disappointment and outrage. 

South Korea’s Moon Jae-in administration had specifically agreed with North Korea to cease “all hostile acts against each other in every domain that are the source of military tension and conflict,” including “various military exercises aimed at each other” through the Agreement on the Implementation of the History Panmunjom Declaration in the Military Domain.

Despite this, the Moon administration has become one with the Biden administration in circulating deceptive rhetoric about these military exercises being not out of the ordinary, purely defensive, reduced in scale, and for the purpose of returning wartime operational control to South Korea. The Moon administration is only intensifying the military tensions and destroying the trust between South and North Korea, rather than “alleviating the military tensions and building trust,” as it had agreed to do in the Panmunjom Declaration.

The reason that South Korea’s civil society, Overseas Koreans, and peace movement organizations all over the world are strongly urging the suspension of the US-ROK joint military exercises is because of the fundamentally serious nature of the joint military exercises.

In other words, the essential nature of the exercises is beyond defensive, as it centers plans and training for preemptive attacks and occupation of North Korea. For example, the training for “Operation Plan 5015” (OPLAN 5015) clearly demonstrates the execution plan and process for preemptive invasion and occupation of North Korea.

Everyone knows that military pressure and threats are no longer effective against North Korea. Moreover, North Korea declared at its 2021 Workers Party Congress that it would adopt the principle of power-for-power and goodwill-for-goodwill in dealing with South Korea and the United States.

It is clear that North Korea will take on an assertive posture and show a strong military response if the US-ROK joint military exercises are conducted. It is almost certain that we will return to the volatile state of the Korean Peninsula being on the brink of war, as was the case in 2017.

The solution is clear. South Korea and the US must listen to the demands of the North, South, and Overseas Korean people, as well as the peace advocates of the world, and cease all hostilities aimed at North Korea, including the US-ROK joint military exercises. We must return to the fundamental spirit and mindset of the Panmunjom and the Singapore Declarations.

North Korea has already emphasized that the path to improving North Korea-US relations is to address the fundamental need to abolish the US’s hostile posture and policy toward North Korea, and return to the spirit of forging agreements between the two Koreas, as well as North Korea and the United States. 

Once again, we strongly urge the Moon Jae-in and Biden administrations to return to the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration and the Singapore Declaration, and immediately stop conducting US-ROK joint military exercises that will destroy peace and inter-Korean relations on the Korean Peninsula!

 Tong-Kyun Kim, Executive Director, June 15 US Committee for Reunification of Korea(New York Committee, Washington DC Committee, Chicago Committee, LA Committee, Seattle Committee)