Amid the escalating nuclear and missile concerns posed by North Korea, South Korea is ramping up its defence capabilities. The country conducted its first nationwide air defence drills in six years. The drills were scheduled for 2 p.m. today and the government instructed the pedestrians to seek shelter, while drivers were asked to pull over in specific regions.
Integral to the annual four-day Ulchi civil defence exercises, this 20-minute drill plays a crucial role alongside the Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises, which commenced on Monday involving South Korean and U.S. military forces. These combined efforts aim to enhance preparedness for potential North Korean attacks or other unforeseen events.
The inception of the Ulchi civil defence exercises dates back to 1969, following a raid carried out by North Korean commandos at the presidential compound in Seoul. Currently, there are approximately 17,000 shelters dispersed throughout the country, which has a population of 52 million. However, the air defence training component has not been conducted since 2017.
In an official announcement, pedestrians have been ordered to immediately head to designated shelters or nearby underground areas. Moreover, those present in nearly 500 public facilities such as supermarkets and movie theatres have been directed to follow evacuation procedures. “The drills are meant to effectively respond to an actual air raid. Don’t be surprised and please find a nearby shelter,” the announcement said.
In some regions bordering North Korea, residents are expected to face additional scenarios, including chemical, biological and radiological training, wearing a gas mask and using emergency food rations, the ministry said.
The drill constitutes a component of a broader exercise designed to assess the South Korean government’s readiness in the face of various potential threats, encompassing challenges such as “advanced nuclear missile threats, cyber attacks, drone-related threats, and more.
Earlier this month, South Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said, “We expect to strengthen the response capacity of the nation through a practical drill reflecting the aspects of provocations of North Korea.”