US, South Korea begin military exercises after Olympics delay

The United States and South Korea are resuming joint military exercises Sunday on the Korean Peninsula after a hiatus because of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Approximately 300,000 South Korean soldiers will be joined by more than 11,500 U.S. troops for a monthlong operation dubbed Foal Eagle, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The annual joint exercises between the two nations usually begin in late February or early March, and last for two months. This year the exercises were pushed back and condensed because of the Olympics, which were held Feb. 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Protesters near the U.S. Embassy in South Korea denounce the annual joint military exercises with the United States, April 1, 2018.

Protesters near the U.S. Embassy in South Korea denounce the annual joint military exercises with the United States, April 1, 2018. (Associated Press)

The United States agreed to the change so as not to provoke North Korea, which sent athletes, artists and a government delegation to the Games.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in reportedly requested the military rescheduling prior to the event.

“I believe it would greatly help ensure the success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games if you could express an intention to delay joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises during the Olympics in case the North does not make any more provocations," Moon said, in an appeal to President Donald Trump.

The White House agreed to the request.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long viewed the annual military exercises as a provocation.

In an unprecedented move, Kim and Trump have agreed to meet face to face at a summit in May. It is unclear what effect the military exercises might have on those plans.