The South Korean government intends to take a strong stance against any future North Korean provocation, the likelihood of which it continues to see as high. In this spirit, last Friday the U.S. and ROK held their largest ever live-fire joint exercises, sending a clear warning message north.
President Lee Myung Bak and Prime Minister Kim Hwang Shik both expressed this sentiment in speeches marking the 62nd anniversary of the Korean War.
President Lee, speaking at a Korean War veterans’ conference on the 23rd in Bogota, Colombia said, “Now we will not forgive any provocations from North Korea and we will guard our country with our own strength.” He added, “The greater goal is to deter war and to safeguard peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
Prime Minister Kim, speaking at the ROK-U.S. joint exercises said, “If North Korea provokes again we will strongly and firmly punish them,” then, on the 25th, added, “Following the Cheonan ship sinking and Yeonpyeong Island shelling, North Korea continues to threaten peace on the Peninsula, for instance, by launching a rocket using ballistic missile technology.”
Minister Kim underscored, “The South Korean government and military is total committed to a strong battle-ready military. Now we are prepared to fully and immediately punish any enemy provocation.”
Many in South Korea presume that North Korea will increase the level of its provocations ahead of the South Korean presidential election in December; therefore, they are promoting the need to take a strong stance.
Kim also added, “Due to recent provocations by North Korea threatening the peace on the Peninsula, our national defense must become stronger than before.”
On this, Kim Hui Sang of Korea Institute for National Security Analysis stated, “The level of threat from North Korea got higher, and that is why the South Korean government has deemed future provocations to be highly likely.”
“The South Korean government is sending a clear message to North Korea, deterring them from further provocations.”
Hong Hyun Ik, a senior research fellow with the Sejong Institute, pointed out, “It has reached the point where inter-Korea dialogue cannot readily solve problems, so South Korea needs to strengthen its security against threats from North Korea.”