South Korea described the North Korean regime and military as an “enemy” rather than a “main enemy” in its defense policy paper, which will be published later this week, the Ministry of National Defense said Monday.
“North Korea poses a serious threat to our security through continuing armed provocations. As long as such threats continue, the North Korean regime and military, which carry out the provocations, are our enemy,” the 2010 white paper reads.
The ministry said that by referring to the North as an enemy, it sought to minimize the possibility of controversy over the main enemy label, which disappeared from the defense white paper six years ago.
“(In the white paper) we send a strong warning message to the North and express our military’s firm stance on the enemy,” said the ministry in a press release.
Following a recent series of North Korean provocations including the Nov. 23 artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, calls have mounted to revive the main enemy concept. However, some others have argued that the concept could further provoke the North and worsen inter-Korean ties.
The North was first referred to as the main enemy in South Korea’s defense policy paper in 1995 amid chilled bilateral relations. In the 2004 version, the term was replaced by “direct military threat” amid a more conciliatory mood.
The reference to the North as the main enemy in the 1995 whitepaper ― issued under former President Kim Young-sam ― came after a North Korean official made hostile remarks during working-level inter-Korean talks held at the truce village of Panmunjeom in March 1994.
The term continued to remain in the 2000 version, issued under former President Kim Dae-jung. However, the government, following the first-ever inter-Korean summit in 2000, deleted some of the sensitive terms, apparently taking into account improving bilateral relations.
In the 2004 version, issued under former President Roh Moo-hyun who inherited the policy of engaging the North from his predecessor, the term was replaced by “direct military threat,” which was further softened with the term, “existing North Korean military threat” in the 2006 version.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)