South Korea and the United States on Monday began joint exercises in the East Sea today, while North Korea criticized South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol's warnings about its possible military cooperation with Russia, calling his remarks hysterical.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted the navy as saying that the three-day drill involves 3 naval vessels and two patrol aircraft from both sides, to enhance readiness against growing military threats from North Korea, according to the South Korean navy.

Yonhap quoted Admiral Kim In-ho, who leads the South Korean side during the exercises, as saying that "this exercise will serve as an opportunity to deter and respond effectively to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and further strengthen the common defense posture."

Pyongyang has continued to escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula, vowing to launch a military spy satellite next month after failed attempts in May and August.

It also held a launch ceremony for a new "tactical nuclear attack" submarine earlier this month.

Visit to Russia is Kim's first trip abroad in 4 years (French)


Meanwhile, North Korea has attacked South Korean leader Yoon Seok Yol, saying he has "maliciously slandered" its relations with Russia.

"The puppet traitor Yoon Seok Yul maliciously slandered relations between North Korea and Russia," the North's official KCNA news agency said, adding, "It was the height of ridicule that the puppet president, who lacks elementary political knowledge and common sense of international relations, behaved rudely, volunteering as a servile trumpet blower and loudspeaker for the United States."

The agency considered that it is natural for neighboring countries to maintain close relations with each other, and that the development of friendship and cooperation among countries is the legitimate right of a sovereign state and the basis of regional and global peace and stability.

According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, Yoon said in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly that any arms deal between Pyongyang and Moscow would be considered a "direct provocation" against South Korea, amid growing concerns about military cooperation following a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 13, Kim's first trip abroad in 4 years.

Experts say Moscow is seeking from Pyongyang the artillery shell stockpile it needs in its war in Ukraine, while Pyongyang wants help from Russia to upgrade its old Soviet-era equipment, especially that of its air force and navy, AFP reported.

Since the beginning of the year, North Korea has conducted a series of military tests, most recently the launch of two short-range ballistic missiles on August 30.

Pyongyang announced in August that its second attempt in three months to launch a satellite for espionage purposes had failed, and promised a new attempt in October, a move that drew widespread international condemnation.