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Defense white paper revives the phrase ‘N. Korean regime and military equal enemies’

Defense white paper revives the phrase ‘N. Korean regime and military equal enemies’

Posted February. 17, 2023 07:41,   

Updated February. 17, 2023 07:41


South Korea’s Ministry of Defense has described the North Korean regime and its military as enemies in the “2022 National Defense White Paper,” which was published for the first time under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration. It is the first time in six years since the defense white paper in 2016 that the expression‎ “North Korean regime = enemy” has been stated in the Ministry’s white paper. The Defense White Paper, which is published every two years, is a “defense guideline” that builds a security consensus and informs the public and private sectors of its defense policies.

The 2022 White Paper stated, “North Korea specifies communization of the entire Korean Peninsula in the preamble of the revised Workers’ Party Statute in 2021 and clearly defined South Korea as its enemy at the Plenary Session of the Party Central Committee in 2022, and continues to make military threats without giving up its nuclear weapons, making its regime and military our enemies.”

The white papers in 2018 and 2020 under the Moon Jae-in administration dropped the phrases that define the North’s regime and military as enemies, only stating that “our military considers any forces that threaten or violate the sovereignty, territory, people, and property of the Republic of Korea as enemies.” Regarding the revival of the term “enemy,” the military said that “the revival of the term ‘enemy’ was in consideration of North Korea’s strategies toward the South, the instances of defining us as “enemies,” continued nuclear advancement, and military threats and provocations.”

Unlike the 2018 and 2020 white papers, which called the North Korean leader “Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea,” the latest paper referred to him as “Kim Jong Un” without putting the title.

It also updated its assessment of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities. North Korea’s plutonium stockpile was described as “about 50 kilograms” in the defense white papers from 2016 to 2020, but the paper in 2022 listed it as “about 70 kilograms,” an increase of 20 kilograms. It also expanded the North’s ballistic missile arsenal by adding seven new types, including the ‘Monster’ Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) of Hwasong-17, Pukguksong-4, 5 (submarine-launched ballistic missile), and two hypersonic missiles.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com · Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com