South Korea flexes muscles as tensions rise

South Korea’s navy has staged a major anti-submarine exercise, its first show of strength since tensions with North Korea flared over the sinking of one of Seoul’s warships.


About 10 warships including a 3,000-tonne destroyer and three patrol boats took part in the one-day drill, Yonhap news agency quoted military officials as saying. The defence ministry declined to give immediate details.

The drill was held off the west coast town of Taean, far south of the disputed Yellow Sea border where the Cheonan corvette was torn in two by a North Korean torpedo on March 26.

The exercise involved the testing of anti-submarine depth charges and naval guns, the military officials said.

Tensions have risen sharply since a multinational investigation concluded last week that a North Korean submarine fired a heavy torpedo to sink the Cheonan with the loss of 46 crew members.

On Monday the South announced a series of military, diplomatic and economic measures including a trade cut-off to punish the North.

Among the military measures, Seoul will resume cross-border loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts which were halted six years ago. The United States and the South will soon hold a joint anti-submarine exercise.

The South has banned the North’s merchant ships from using its sea lanes. A destroyer has been stationed in the Jeju Strait off the south coast to turn back the vessels.

The North, which denies involvement in the sinking, has warned of war in response to any attempts to punish it.

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