Back To Top

Moon calls for ‘overwhelming’ military capability against North Korea

President Moon Jae-in urged the military to secure “overwhelming” capability to fend off North Korea’s growing military threat on Friday as South Korea’s Defense Ministry warned against another strategic provocations following its latest missile launch.

The president also called for an “early and swift” transfer of wartime operational control from the United States to South Korea, suggesting the military should secure capability to lead combined operations in the event of contingency on the Korean Peninsula.

“Based on a robust South Korea-US alliance, we have to work swiftly to meet the conditions for wartime operational control,” said the president during a lunch meeting with some 150 military commanders at the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.

“Given that North Korea’s missile and nuclear threat has been accelerating at a faster pace than before, the military’s role is more important than ever. You are our last line of defense against North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile threats,” he added.

President Moon Jae-in leads a salute to the South Korean national flag before a lunch with the country’s top military commanding officers at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Friday. Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in leads a salute to the South Korean national flag before a lunch with the country’s top military commanding officers at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Friday. Yonhap

Defense Minister Song Young-moo said South Korea overwhelms North Korea in terms of overall military capability, saying the North’s weapons were “obsolete” and mostly devoted to asymmetric warfare.

According to the 2016 defense white paper, the North Korean Army stands at 1.28 million personnel, about twice as many as that of South Korean. But its air force and navy are thought to be ill-equipped and less well trained than those of South Korea.

The minister added that the military would develop a new operational scheme designed to win the war “in the shortest time with minimized risk.” Military officials said the new plan will focus on an offensive campaign, such as dispatching highly mobile forces to Pyongyang in the initial phase of war.

“We need to accurately assess the two Koreas’ military capabilities,” said Song. “When it comes to assessing the North’s capability, we have relied on quantitative assessment. It is time to focus more on qualitative assessment.”   

The meeting came amid rising tension on the Korean Peninsula following the North’s launch of the new intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-15. The Defense Ministry said last week the missile could travel as far as 13,000 kilometers, putting the entire US within its range.

Before the meeting with the president, the Ministry of Defense predicted North Korea is likely to conduct another “strategic provocation” in the hopes of enhancing its leverage against the US before potential nuclear talks.

In order to distract internal grievance from international sanctions, the ministry also assessed the communist regime could carry out cyberattacks to disrupt South Korea’s international events -- such as the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

“North Korea recognizes its nuclear and missile program as a means for survival. Through strategic provocations, they are likely to maintain the hard-line position and enhance its negotiating capability,” the ministry said after holding a major commanders’ meeting in Seoul.

The military leaders pledged to maintain robust readiness posture “across the whole spectrum” and support the government’s efforts to successfully host the Olympics from Feb. 9-25.

They pledged to establish a three-layered anti-missile system “as soon as possible” and prepare for attempts to infiltrate northwestern islands near the maritime border with North Korea.

“North Korea has increased its asymmetrical warfare capability through nuclear and missile threats. We need to move beyond the conventional concept and establish a new plan to conduct a new type of war,” Minister Song said.

By Yeo Jun-suk(

catch table
Korea Herald daum