Go to contents

NK Launch Draws Strong Response From S. Korea

Posted April. 06, 2009 08:02,   


The government yesterday defined North Korea’s rocket launch as a “provocative act” and announced it will take a “stern and resolute” response.

South Korean presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan expressed “disappointment and regret” over Pyongyang’s “reckless act” for posing a serious threat to security on the Korean Peninsula and in the world. He warned that Seoul will respond to the provocation “sternly and resolutely.”

Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan also said in an official statement that Seoul will strengthen its preparedness to cope with further provocations by Pyongyang.

He said the South is taking concrete countermeasures against the launch under consultation with the United Nations and other related countries.

Seoul also plans to participate in the U.N. Security Council’s response. In a phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Yu called the launch a provocative act and agreed with her that a Security Council response is necessary.

While stressing stern measures, Seoul also mentioned “resolute response” to induce Pyongyang’s change in attitude. Spokesman Lee said Seoul will wait with an open mind, patience and consistency.

South Korea had suggested fully participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative if the launch came, but has refrained from a direct response.

Despite the strongly worded statements, South Korean government officials made no mention of participation in the initiative. On the reason, they simply reaffirmed the principle, saying Seoul has announced its plan to participate and is taking procedures.

An official at the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul said participation in the initiative has nothing to do with the launch, saying entry should follow an independent procedure rather than serve as an immediate response. They apparently sought to avoid provoking the North unnecessarily.

Other observers say South Korean President Lee Myung-bak planted a tree to mark Arbor Day just before the launch to emphasize the resolute response of his administration.

“North Korea launches a rocket, but we plant trees,” he said.

The launch despite Seoul’s warning will likely strain inter-Korean relations further. A Cheong Wa Dae official said the administration will not offer rice or fertilizer aid to seek a thaw in relations, adding both sides will hold talks over mutually beneficial issues with sincerity when the situation is appropriate.