About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday that enhancing military capabilities to counter North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile threats is the South Korean military’s “urgent task.”
“I think that the task we are assigned now is a strong defense reform. I believe the defense reform at the level of metamorphosis may be needed instead of making some improvements,” Moon told newly promoted generals at the Blue House.
“Of course, the urgent task is to secure the military capabilities that enable us to counter the North Korean nuclear and missile provocations.”
Moon met high-ranking military officers, including new Army Chief of Staff Kim Yong-woo and Air Force Chief of Staff Lee Wang-keun, who were appointed by the President on Tuesday amid a reshuffle of key military positions.
“I hope [the South Korean military] will complement the military response posture a little bit as soon as possible,” Moon said, stressing the importance of what he called “self-reliant national defense.”
Kim also said that the South Korean military had been “placed in a difficult position with new security situations and new threats.”
Moon’s comments came the same day as a statement by North Korea’s General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) threatening to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire.”
A spokesperson for the KPA high command warned that a preemptive strike was “no longer the monopoly of the U.S,” in comments carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“The Korean-style earlier preemptive attack will burn up all the objects in the areas under the control of the first and third field armies of the puppet forces including Seoul the moment the U.S. reckless attempt at preemptive attack is spotted,” the KCNA said in an English-language version of the article.
The South’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) said on Wednesday that the Moon administration will “make consistent efforts for reconciliation and cooperation between the two Koreas and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
When asked whether the South Korean government had heightened countermeasures against the North, MOU spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun said the military maintained “full-readiness in preparation for various situations.”
“I would like to say that the South Korean and the U.S. intelligence authorities are thoroughly keeping close tabs on the relevant movements in preparation for further provocations by the North,” Baik told media during a regular news briefing.
The Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) also said in a statement released on Wednesday that the DPRK military is examining an operational plan for a medium-to-long-range ballistic missile attack on the island of Guam.
In response, the Offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense announced on Wednesday there is “no change in threat level” in response to the North’s threats.
“As of this morning, we have not changed our stance in confidence that the U.S. Department of Defense is monitoring this situation very closely and is maintaining a condition of readiness, daily,” George Charfauros, Homeland Security Advisor, said in a statement.
The advisor also called for the community to “remember that there are defenses in place for threats such as North Korea and to continue to remain prepared for all hazards.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: South Korean Presidential Blue House