Photo taken on April 11, 2017 shows military vehicles during the U.S.-South Korea joint Exercise Operation Pacific Reach in Pohang, South Korea. (Xinhua/Lee Sang-ho)
SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- South Korean civic groups on Wednesday demanded stopping war games between Seoul and Washington in face of the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which the country vowed to make a peace sports event.
Representatives from 169 advocacy and religious groups held a press conference at the Gwanghwamon Square in central Seoul, saying the South Korea-U.S. military exercises must be completely stopped taking the opportunity of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games.
The joint statement released by the groups said the military drills, which mobilized dangerous strategic weapons, had continued on the Korean Peninsula and were scheduled to be conducted when the winter Olympic games are held early next year.
It said the vicious war crisis must be severed to open a new peace era on the peninsula as the peace sports event is being prepared in PyeongChang, the country's eastern city in Gangwon province.
The statement called on the U.S. government to stop any military action across the world as well as on the peninsula.
The PyeongChang Winter Olympics was scheduled from Feb. 9 to Feb. 25 next year. It will be followed by the Paralympic Games from March 9 to March 18.
The winter sports event was forecast to coincide with the South Korea-U.S. springtime war games as the military drills tend to kick off in mid-March every year and last by the end of April.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a Tuesday interview with U.S. broadcaster NBC that if the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) stops provocation until the PyeongChang Olympics period, South Korea and the United States could review the delay of the joint war games scheduled during the Olympics period.
Moon said he already made the overtures to the U.S. side, which is currently reviewing his proposal, noting that if realized, it will help create atmosphere for dialogues between the United States and the DPRK and between South Korea and the DPRK.
The South Korean leader emphasized that whether to delay the war games would solely depend on the DPRK.
Moon still opened a possibility for the DPRK's participation in the South Korea-hosted winter Olympic Games, saying South Korean people would deliver a message of peace Olympic to the world through the upcoming PyeongChang Olympic Games.
It remained to be seen whether Pyongyang would positively see Moon's offer to delay the annual war games, which the DPRK has accused of a dress rehearsal for northward invasion.
In 2017, the Key Resolve computer-simulated military exercise between South Korea and the United States kicked off in mid-March, mobilizing a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier and strategic bombers. It was trailed by the Foal Eagle field training exercise that continued by the end of April.
In protest, the DPRK test-fired ballistic missiles during the war game period. In late November, Pyongyang test-launched Hwasong-15, which it claimed to have been an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
South Korea submitted a so-called truce resolution in September, which was approved by the UN General Assembly on Nov. 13 to appeal for a suspension of any conflict in the world during the PyeongChang Olympics period.
The United Nations has, since 1993, adopted Olympic truce resolutions every two years to honor peace, one of the Olympic spirits.