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Defense White Paper explicitly states N. Korea is an enemy

Defense White Paper explicitly states N. Korea is an enemy

Posted December. 07, 2022 07:52,   

Updated December. 07, 2022 07:52


The 2022 Defense White Paper slated to be published in January is reported to have defined North Korea as an “enemy.” It will be the first time since 2016 that the Defense White Paper deems the North Korean military as the enemy of the state.

According to a person familiar with the matter in the Defense Ministry, the draft version of the 2022 Defense White Paper included an expression‎ referring to the North Korean regime and its military as “our enemy.” Earlier, the Presidential Transition Committee announced that it would explicitly state the North Korean regime and its military as an enemy in the Defense White Paper as one of its 110 key tasks.

In May, in the wake of President Yoon Suk-yeol’s inauguration, the Army distributed moral education materials stating that provocations of North Korea are posing a threat to [the Republic of Korea]’s national security and the North Korean regime and its military are our enemy so long as this security threat continues. An army official said that the moral education of soldiers has been carried out using the changed expressions to establish a clear view of the enemy.

The expression‎ that the North Korean regime and its military are an enemy was first used in the 2010 Defense White Paper under the former Lee Myung-bak administration and disappeared under the 2018 Defense White Paper under the former Moon Jae-in administration and was substituted with the following, “[The Republic of Korea Army] considers any force that threatens and violates the nation’s sovereignty, territory, people, and property as our enemy,” out of concern for a strained relationship between the two Koreas. An official from the Unification Ministry said that even though the Defense White Paper describes North Korea as an enemy, as necessitated by the nature of the duty of the military, that does not necessarily mean that South Korea refuses to have a dialogue and cooperate with North Korea.

However, the military will not use the expression‎ “North Korea is the main enemy.” This expression‎ was first used in the 1995 Defense White Paper in the wake of the 1994 South-North exchange of special envoys, where the North Korean representative threatened to turn Seoul into “a sea of fire” and remained until 2000. “We are considering various options, but given that the expression‎ ‘main enemy’ may evolve into political controversy, it is hardly likely that this expression‎ will be used,” said an official in the military familiar with the matter.

Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com · Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com