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S. Koreans Stage Candlelight Vigil Against Joint Military Drill With U.S.

A group of South Korean peace activists and ordinary people staged a candlelight vigil in central Seoul on Friday to express their stern opposition to an upcoming joint military exercise with the United States.

Holding a candle in one hand, each participant shouted slogans of “Stop war exercise,” and “Stop hostilities and go to peace now.”

Against the backdrop of placards that read “Stop South Korea-U.S.-Japan military cooperation and South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise that cause a war crisis,” the peace activists called for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

“It’s a war crisis once again,” said Jung Jong-sung, a civic activist who participated in the rally organized by the Korea Peace Appeal which is composed of hundreds of civic and religious groups in South Korea, as well as dozens of overseas anti-war groups.

Jung urged the South Korean government to eliminate all possible factors triggering war or armed conflict, stressing that all hostile acts, which can bring about military tension and conflict, should be stopped immediately.

The Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise between South Korea and the United States, or a summer joint military exercise involving large-scale field maneuvers, was slated to be held on Aug. 21-31, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The annual military drill will reportedly involve about 30 field maneuvers, compared to 13 conducted last year.

“As always, it will be a military exercise considering the deployment of the strongest-ever weapons, including nuclear ones. So, I came here to prevent the escalation of military crisis on the Korean Peninsula which is already in a bad situation,” Hwang Nam-sun, a peace activist at the rally, told Xinhua.

“The South Korea-U.S. military exercise is a war exercise for sure … It’s raising the crisis of war and evoking the fear of war among citizens,” Hwang said.