By Chae Yun-hwan
SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) — The South Korean government reacted cautiously to a report of North Korea’s military having staged an “artillery fire competition,” saying it will keep a close watch on related situations.
“Rather than prejudging North Korea’s intentions, the government will closely monitor relevant moves,” the unification ministry’s spokesperson Lee Jong-joo told reporters when asked about the issue.
The previous day, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported the training event had been held with the participation of “artillery sub-units under mechanized troops at all levels” of the Korean People’s Army (KPA).
Top military generals made an on-site inspection of the competition, the KCNA said, but the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was not mentioned in its report, which suggested Kim was not present.
The ministry official pointed out the North has staged various types of military drills, including such artillery fire contests and special forces’ strike competitions.
The North’s leader had often inspected the trainings in person, but there has been no report by Pyongyang’s state-controlled media this year that he did so, Lee noted.
The South’s defense ministry said, separately, it has no formal statement to issue in connection with the latest report of the North’s military exercise.
The unification ministry, meanwhile, said there is no problem in daily inter-Korean contact through their hotlines
The two Koreas have conducted regular phone conversations everyday at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. since the lines were restored on Oct. 4, according to the spokesperson.
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