South Korean civilian drills have turned lax despite threats

In this Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, photo, people pass by a bomb shelter sign before a civil defense drill in Seoul, South Korea. Once or twice a year, streets of South Korea’s busy capital freeze for several minutes at the sound of a siren, with cars stopping on roads and pedestrians moving into buildings and subway stations taking part in a nationwide drill aimed at preparing against a North Korean attack. But critics say the remarkable scenes mask aging policies that are failing to train South Koreans at a time when the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile program is growing. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

 

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Once or twice a year, the streets of South Korea’s busy capital freeze for several minutes at the sound of a siren.

Cars stop on roads. Pedestrians move into buildings and subway stations taking part in a nationwide drill aimed at preparing against a North Korean attack.

Millions of people take part in the civilian drills. But critics say the remarkable scenes mask aging policies that are failing to train South Koreans at a time when the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile program is growing.

For many, there’s no real training, just people standing around in schoolyards or other gathering spots, staring into their smartphones, chatting amiably or just looking bored or frustrated.

A government survey indicates many South Koreans don’t even know their closest evacuation center.

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