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Defense Ministry: “Main Enemy is Contradictory Term”

Posted November. 16, 2004 22:58,   


In a unprecedented move, Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung expressed his willingness to remove phrases defining North Korea as the main enemy from the 2004 White Paper on National Defense, due to be published in January of next year, Dong-A Ilbo learned on November 16.

“I don’t understand why the ministry has been using the concept of ‘main enemy,’” a source on November 16 quoted the minister as saying in a conference on defense innovation with the ministry’s senior officials on November 12. “Will tourism between the North and South be possible once the concept is applied?”

Minister Yoon said that he understands why the ministry uses the concept of “main military enemy,” but that it is preposterous to call a country the main enemy, the source told.

“Military policy is subordinate to diplomacy and security. The same is true of the concept of ‘main enemy,’ Yoon said. “The main enemy should be discussed by government organizations which are comprehensively responsible for diplomacy and security such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

Yoon’s remarks likely herald that “North Korea as the main enemy” will vanish from the 2004 White Paper. The 2000 White Paper, the latest volume, contains phrases defining the aim of national defense as the protection of the state against the real military threats posed by North Korea, the main enemy.

“Minister Yoon’s remarks were aimed at stressing the military aspects of North Korea -- its subversive ideology and weapons of mass destruction -- as the enemy over North Korea itself,” said Shin Hyon-don, the ministry’s spokesperson.

“He clarified that the Ministry of Defense does not make policies on security or diplomacy and that it just implements them,” said another ministry official. “Since the concept of ‘main enemy’ is related to the philosophy of security and diplomacy policies, it is out of the policy scope of the defense ministry and the military.”

Whether to keep or remove the main enemy phrases from the white paper will likely be decided by the National Security Council or the Presidential Office. The government and the Presidential Office are reportedly considering the use of “major threat,” “military threat,” and “security threat” to describe North Korea.

Ho-Won Choi bestiger@donga.com