Yoon presides over defense meeting, chides Moon for ‘fake peace’
President Yoon Suk Yeol criticized the Moon Jae-in administration for neglecting to conduct proper integrated defense drills involving the government, the military, police and civilians in pursuit of a “fake peace,” during a pan-government defense meeting Wednesday.
This marks the first time the president presided over the annual central integrated defense council meeting in seven years. The meeting, which dates back to 1968, is focused on the combined defense posture of the government, the military, police and civilians in light of national security threats including North Korea.
“Under the previous administration, this meeting was downsized, and the integrated training between civilians, government, the military and police was not properly implemented, relying on a fake peace,” said Yoon at the Blue House Yeongbingwan state guest house in central Seoul. “As a result, there was a weakening in our capabilities for a nationwide, all-out war system to defend the nation and to unify our national defense forces.”
Yoon has frequently come down on his predecessor’s policy of pursuing a reconciliatory peace initiative with Pyongyang, which he said weakened the country’s combined defense posture.
The meeting aimed at reviewing the country’s integrated defense posture covered measures such as strengthening capabilities to respond North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and strengthening counterterrorism and cyber security capabilities.
Yoon plans to preside over the meeting annually.
“The current security situation on the Korean Peninsula and the surrounding region is very grave,” said Yoon, pointing to the possibility of North Korea’s “strategic provocations,” such as a seventh nuclear test and another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.
“It is necessary to check whether there is any vacuum in our integrated defense in line with various types of North Korean provocations, and overhaul the government’s emergency preparedness system,” he added.
Yoon said concerns include North Korea’s asymmetric provocations, cyber attacks, growing terrorism threats and the volatile international security situation due to the Ukrainian war.
The meeting was attended by some 160 senior officials, including the chiefs of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), military branches, the National Police Agency and National Fire Agency. Both heads of central and local government, including Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, as well as defense experts also took part in it.
A president last presided over the meeting in 2016, and since 2017, the meeting has been presided over by the prime minister. In the past three years, during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was held by video conference or through written reports.
The presidential office said that this meeting was held with the backdrop of North Korea defining South Korea as an “enemy” and openly demonstrating its readiness for a preemptive nuclear strike, as well as its recent drone infiltration and cyber attacks.
Yoon stressed the importance of cyber security, his office said, since “cyber provocations can cause devastating damage to our economy,” calling for cooperation with the private sector. He also called for energy-related facilities, such as gas, oil and nuclear power plants, to be treated as national security facilities.
Korea also plans to stage nationwide civil air defense drills in May for the first time in six years, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Wednesday, to help reinforce public safety amid evolving North Korean nuclear and missile threats.
The JCS said this plan was among measures discussed at the integrated defense council meeting presided over by Yoon to improve an early response to contingencies. Such measures include improving a disaster alert system, expanding evacuation facilities and bolstering inter-agency cooperation.
The last such civil air defense drills was held in August 2017.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]