The South Korean military said the show of force, which ended Wednesday, succeeded in sending a pointed warning to North Korea four months after the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship.
Indeed, the shiny armada of destroyers and stealth fighter jets — led by a nuclear-powered supercarrier that at 97,000 tons is one of the world's largest — appeared to have muted the regime.
After days of threatening to wage a powerful nuclear strike in response to the drills, North Korea issued a feeble call Wednesday for the U.S. to drop its "hostile policy" against Pyongyang.
However, some analysts say it's too early to claim success against the unpredictable North.
Jeung Young-tae of the government-funded Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul said the drills could provide just the excuse the regime needs to carry out another act of nuclear defiance: a nuclear test.
South Korea and U.S. officials said no unusual military activity has been detected this week in the North, and that the drills demonstrated the allies' firepower.
"These defensive, combined training exercises are designed to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behavior must stop," Gen. Walter L. Sharp, the top U.S. military commander in South Korea, said in a statement issued Thursday. The two countries "are committed to enhancing our combined defensive capabilities."
Rear Adm. Kim Kyung-sik of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters Wednesday that the U.S. and South Korea showed off some "impressive firepower" and demonstrated the allies' solidarity.