South Korea has reorganized the public security ministry to beef up its emergency response capability, officials said Tuesday, in the wake of North Korea's recent missile provocations and its apparent use of a lethal chemical agent to kill its leader's half brother.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Security has elevated the status of its emergency civil defense policy division by putting it under the vice minister's office and created a crisis management support team tasked with preparing against Pyongyang's possible low-intensity attacks.
|the logo of the Ministry of Public Safety and Security. (Yonhap)|
The overhaul came amid escalating security threats from the communist state.
Pyongyang fired off four ballistic missiles toward the East Sea last Monday, less than a month after it launched a new intermediate-range ballistic missile in an indication that it is on course towards obtaining the technology for a nuclear-tipped missile.
On Feb. 13, Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of the North's leader Kim Jong-un was killed with a lethal VX nerve agent at the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. Seoul blames Pyongyang for the apparent assassination while the North denies its responsibility.
All these acts have alarmed security officials here, who have warned of additional North Korean provocations and called on the military to tighten national and public security.
To enhance the country's readiness posture for contingencies, the ministry plans to form a regular policy consultation panel consisting of officials from the central and provincial governments, and other public organizations.
To deal with Pyongyang's chemical and biological threats, the ministry plans to craft a long-term plan to increase the number of gas masks for civil defense staff and other citizens, and build more evacuation facilities.
This year, the ministry plans to purchase 100,000 gas masks for the civil defense staff with a budget of 1.11 billion won ($965,763). Over the next five years, it plans to secure a total of 1.85 million gas masks.
The ministry, in addition, plans to enhance civil defense education on chemical, biological and radioactive threats, and improve the existing evacuation facilities that have been designed to handle only conventional military threats. (Yonhap)