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Military chief nominee vows full combat readiness amid changing security conditions

The nominee to become South Korea's top military officer made clear Friday that North Korea remains the country's enemy despite a conciliatory mood.

"Our existing enemy ... It's North Korea, which is a clear enemy that threatens the Republic of Korea," Army Gen. Park Han-ki, nominated to lead the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly.

He was answering a question about the biggest security threat to South Korea.

Army Gen. Park Han-ki (Yonhap)
Army Gen. Park Han-ki (Yonhap)

On the recent military agreement between the two Koreas for the implementation of the April summit deal, Park said the risk of armed clashes around the Northern Limit Line, the de facto sea border, and other flashpoints has "reduced fundamentally."

Reading out a statement at the outset of the hearing, he pledged every effort for the success of defense reform.

"Currently, the security of the Korean Peninsula is in a big transformational period, moving toward peace and prosperity," he said.

In Northeast Asia, he added, "strategic resilience" is growing amid competing national interests. Cyber threats have also increased, he said.

"I will do my best to make a high-morale, combat-winning military to defend the country and the people and receive public trust," he said.

Park put forward his four key priorities: stable reform of the military, a firm defense posture, solid communication-based internal unity and deterrence based on combined operations.

He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1983 following his graduation from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the University of Seoul.

If appointed, he will become the first head of the country's JCS with a ROTC background in two decades.

He has served as the commander of the 2nd Operational Command, headquartered in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, since last year. (Yonhap)