South Korea brands North ‘enemy’ – Yonhap
South Korea’s Defense Ministry has referred to the North as “an enemy” in educational materials distributed among its troops in a move that reflects Seoul’s toughening stance on Pyongyang, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday, citing South Korean officials.
“North Korea’s provocations are security threats facing us, and as long as such security threats continue, the North’s military and its regime are our enemy,” the South’s materials for “military spirit education” read.
Last week, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who assumed office in early May, said in an interview with CNN that the age of appeasing North Korea is over. His comment apparently reflects a shift from the preceding liberal Moon Jae-in administration, which avoided such expressions as it pushed for closer inter-Korean ties.
The South Korean military distributed the materials on May 9, following a speech by the nation’s new defense minister, Lee Jong-sup, at a parliamentary hearing where he called the North an “evident” enemy, citing especially its recent missile launches and the “nuclear threat” it poses.
“The minister has told the National Assembly that he would ensure clear education will be given to troops about the North Korean military and the regime being our enemy,” a ministry official told Yonhap on condition of anonymity. “In line with the thrust of his remarks, we have made the materials.”
By comparison, educational materials distributed in 2019 stated that the North represented “real military threats,” adding that the country needed “capabilities to respond strongly and sternly should the North carry out provocations or hostile acts.”
The change in rhetoric occurred after North Korea launched at least 16 missile tests this year. According to US military and intelligence agencies, Pyongyang may also be gearing up for its first underground nuclear test in nearly five years.