A South Korean military spokesman said on Sunday the new round of marine gunnery exercises will begin on December 13 and will continue until the 19th at 27 sites as planned. But the scheduled exercises will not take place near the contested Yellow Sea border with the North.

“This week’s drill will start on Monday as scheduled… we have no plan to conduct it at the frontier islands,” the spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, referring to the five islands in tense waters off the west coast just south of the contentious sea border called Northern Limit Line.

South Korea launched firing exercises on Monday by warships and land artillery units in 29 locations, including one of five frontline islands near the disputed sea border. The drills were conducted off all three coasts of the Korean Peninsula until Friday.

Meanwhile, US and South Korean top military officers said on Wednesday that the two countries agreed to stage more joint military exercises.

In recent months, the United States and South Korea have conducted several massive joint sea and air drills in waters east of the peninsula.

The drills come as tensions are still high in the region after last month’s deadly clash between South and North Korean forces along the Koreas’ disputed sea borders.

The fighting left four South Koreans, including two civilians, dead. Each side blames the other for initiating the clash.

North Korea has called the military buildup a declaration of a war and threatened to deal retaliatory blows to Seoul

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