The U.S. Embassy in Seoul said Tuesday it would not evacuate American citizens without informing the South Korean government first. The embassy issued a statement responding to rumors that the U.S. was making secret evacuation plans amid growing North Korean nuclear threats.
The embassy said it was aware of recent rumors, inaccurate news reports, and false social media warnings regarding the alleged imminent evacuation of Americans from South Korea, and urged the public to check the U.S. government’s official websites for accurate information.
It referred to the websites of the embassy (kr.usembassy.gov), U.S. Forces Korea (www.usfk.mil), and the U.S. State Department's travel information service (travel.state.gov).
Decisions on whether to evacuate Americans are made by the State Department in consultation with the U.S. Defense Department and other government agencies, it said.
Any such decision would be communicated to the host country through official channels and an evacuation would be conducted in cooperation with South Korean authorities, it added.
The announcement appears intended to dispel fears that the U.S. might attempt to secretly evacuate its citizens behind Seoul's back before launching a preemptive strike on North Korea.
The embassy said the planned evacuation drill dubbed "Courageous Channel" has nothing to do with any specific security situation and is carried out as a matter of routine twice a year. The USFK plans to conduct the drill next week.
The U.S. government has conducted such crisis-management drills all over the world for decades, it added.
Families of U.S. Forces Korea personnel board an aircraft as part of an evacuation drill at an airport in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province in November last year (file photo). /Courtesy of the USFK Eighth Army