Updated June. 21, 2014 06:10
The South Korean Navy conducted a live-fire drill off the country`s east coast near its easternmost islets of Dokdo Friday, simulating a North Korean submarine infiltration. The Navy mobilized 19 naval ships, including the 3,200-ton Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyer, two P-3CK anti-submarine surveillance aircrafts and a Lynx antisubmarine helicopter.
A day earlier, Japan urged South Korea to cancel the exercise, repeating its territorial claim over Dokdo. Seoul flatly rejected Tokyo`s call and held the one-day exercise in the East Sea as scheduled. The Navy initially planned to hold the drill behind closed doors. However, it decided to make it public as a warning against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who made a series of threatening remarks against the South during his visit to a submarine unit marking the 15th anniversary of the 1999 inter-Korean naval skirmish off the west coast.
The Navy carried out the drill, which lasted about three hours from 9:00 a.m. Friday, based on a scenario in which it detected, chased and destroyed a North Korean submarine infiltrated into the South Korean waters. The Cheongsangeo light torpedo fired from the 1,200-ton Wonju patrol ship hit the imaginary target that was set up at spot some 9 kilometers away and 60 meters under water. The Wonju ship is in the same class as the Cheonan, which was sunken by a North Korean torpedo attack in 2010. The Navy said that the drill was an expression of its determination to retaliate for the 46 South Korean seamen killed aboard Cheonan in the event of the North`s provocation.
"The area of the latest exercise is where the (South Korean) military has conducted live-fire drills on a regular basis," a Navy official said. "The Japanese government`s claim that the venue includes part of its territorial waters is outrageous and not even worth considering."
At a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, Japan`s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga protested the exercise, saying, "Japan can never accept the drill given its position on Takeshima (the Japanese name for Dokdo)."