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Moon vows firm response to threats to S. Koreans' lives, safety

President Moon Jae-in assured the South Korean people Friday that his government will deal resolutely with any act that threatens their lives and safety.

He was addressing the 72nd Armed Forces Day ceremony held at the headquarters of the Special Warfare Command in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, following reports that North Korea fatally shot a South Korean government official and burned his body earlier this week.

Moon stressed that South Korea will further beef up its security and defense posture.

"(I) promise that the government and the military will respond resolutely to any act of threatening the people's lives and safety," the president said during the televised speech.

He added South Korea can "make, keep and build up peace" by securing a strong defense posture, which nobody can surmount, on its own.

He used the word "peace" several times throughout his 15-minute address but made no direct mention of North Korea. He did not talk either about the shocking incident of the South Korean citizen shot dead by the North's border guards around the western sea border.

The previous day, the South's defense authorities said the 47-year-old civil servant belonging to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries was shot dead Tuesday after crossing the western sea border. The North set his body on fire apparently out of new coronavirus concerns.

On Thursday evening, Moon issued a statement through his Cheong Wa Dae spokesman that it was a "shocking" incident that cannot be tolerated for any reason.

He urged Pyongyang to take "responsible" measures over the "very regrettable" act.

Moon spent much of his speech presenting the future vision for South Korea's military.

"Our military in the future should respond to not only conventional security threats but also non-military ones, including infectious diseases like the coronavirus, terrorism and natural disasters," he stressed.

He called for the realization of a "digital" and "smart" military power in preparation for the advent of a new defense concept and warfare in the fourth industrial revolution era.

Moon cited the military's push for sending recon satellites into orbit by using solid-propellant space rockets, acquiring a 30,000-ton light aircraft carrier and developing the country's indigenous fighter jet.

Under the revised missile development guidelines agreed by the United States, South Korea will be able to develop more powerful and longer-range missiles, he noted.

The government has already submitted next year's defense budget plan to the National Assembly to increase its size by 5.5 percent to 52.9 trillion won ($45.2 billion) from this year.

Moon showed up at the venue for the annual ceremony aboard a tactical command vehicle that was developed by South Korea, escorted by a multipurpose drone, an unmanned combat vehicle and a K808 wheeled armored personnel carrier.

It is the first time that the government has held the annual Armed Forces Day ceremony at the Army's Special Warfare Command, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

The three previous events took place at the Navy's Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, in 2018, the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul in 2018 and an Air Force base in Daegu, 302 kilometers southeast of Seoul, last year. (Yonhap)