South Korea on Wednesday dismissed North Korea's criticism of its ongoing annual military exercise that it is a rehearsal for the invasion of the communist country, Yonhap news agency reported.
The South Korean military on Monday kicked off the two-week Hoguk defense exercise involving some 330,000 troops with the aim of bolstering its defense posture against growing North Korean threats. In Korean, Hoguk means defense of a country.
Seoul's unification ministry stressed the Hoguk training is a "fair defense-oriented exercise."
"The government's position is that it's not appropriate for North Korea to condemn such a fair defense training," the ministry's deputy spokeswoman Park Soo-jin said at a press briefing.
The South will deal sternly with the North's threat as it is not helpful to inter-Korean ties, she added.
Earlier in the day, North Korea warned the South of harsh retaliation, claiming that the drill is aimed at launching a nuclear war against the communist country.
"The rehearsal is a preliminary war, nuclear test war for aggression on the DPRK in light of its scale and content," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency.
DPRK is the acronym for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.