South Korea and the United States resumed their annual military exercises on Monday, Aug. 16. The news was not welcomed by North Korean officials who urged the Chinese regime to work together to confront the U.S. and its allies. 

Ri Ryong-nam, North Korea’s ambassador to China, was the first to warn that he feels the U.S. is threatening “Asia-Pacific” countries with its military presence and called on the Chinese communist regime to strengthen their alliance to confront it. 

“The U.S. is a common threat to North Korea and China, and the two countries should confront it by strengthening their cooperation,” Ri Ryong-nam said. “The U.S. is not welcome and they will definitely pay the price for that,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, responded to the resumption of the drills in a repudiatory and confrontational statement:

“The drills are unwanted self-destructive actions that threaten the North Korean people and increase tensions on the Korean peninsula,” she said, according to the Express media.

However, the reality shows that the military training announced between the United States and South Korea, would not have major differences from the exercises usually carried out for decades at the beginning of each spring and summer. 

In fact, the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced the military exercises in the area in advance while justifying them under the objective of deepening peaceful relations in the region.

“The alliance made the decision after comprehensively considering the COVID-19 situation, joint defence posture and ways to support diplomatic efforts to denuclearize and foster lasting peace on the Korean peninsula,” the U.S. and South Korean forces announced in a joint statement.

North Korea has always spoken out against U.S. military exercises in the region, in fact, last week when the preliminary training began, North Korea did not respond to calls on the inter-Korean hotline notifying of the start of the activities. 

For its part, South Korea also called on Pyongyang to respond to its offers of dialogue and said that “raising military tensions on the Korean peninsula would not help anyone.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. emphasized that its drills with South Korea were purely defensive in nature.

“As we have long maintained, the United States harbours no hostile intent toward the DPRK,”  U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday, using the initials of the country’s formal name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“We support inter-Korean dialogue, we support inter-Korean engagement and will continue to work with our (South Korean) partners toward that end,” Price added.

According to analysts, the criticisms and threats by the North Korean regime seem to have more to do with trying to distract its citizens from the deep economic crisis the country is experiencing and domestic political issues, than with sending a real message of confrontation to Washington.