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Moon stresses military reform, innovation

President Moon Jae-in speaks at the Ministry of National Defense briefing on Tuesday. Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in speaks at the Ministry of National Defense briefing on Tuesday. Yonhap

The military will focus on strengthening its ability to respond to nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in 2020, and on applying cutting-edge technologies to its defense systems, the Ministry of National Defense said Tuesday. 

The plans were revealed in an annual briefing session for President Moon Jae-in at the Gyeryongdae complex -- an Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters near Daejeon.

At the briefing, Moon stressed the importance of defense, pointing to the increased defense budget under his administration.

“Our ultimate goal of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula is possible with the backing of a strong defense,” Moon said.

During Moon’s term, the country’s defense budget has increased at an annual average of 7.6 percent. It exceeded the 50 trillion won ($42.9 billion) mark for the first time this year.

Moon also called on the military to carry out its plans for the transfer of wartime operational control, saying South Korea should secure the capabilities it needs to play the leading role in its own defense.

Moon also called on the military to follow through on its defense reform plans, and to secure the ability to respond to nontraditional threats. The president also emphasized the need to apply new technologies to defense, saying advances in defense technology would also benefit the economy.

Moon also called on the military leaders to improve conditions for enlisted soldiers, and to ensure gender equality and work-life balance in the military.
At the briefing the military revealed that nearly 6.2 trillion won has been earmarked for the strengthening of South Korea’s capabilities to respond to nuclear and WMD threats. Related projects include the introduction of additional high-altitude unmanned surveillance aircraft and the development of military satellites.

The Defense Ministry also said F-35A stealth fighter jets and additional Patriot air defense systems would be introduced to increase the military’s ability to carry out precision strikes, and to defend against missiles.

In addition, just under 2 trillion won has been set aside to strengthen the military’s core capabilities in preparation for taking over wartime operational control from the US, the Defense Ministry said.

Regarding the application of new technologies to defense, the ministry has compiled a list of technologies and capabilities it would concentrate on developing. They include artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality. The ministry also said it would push to reform defense industry regulations to enable new technologies to be applied more quickly.

By Choi He-suk (