President Moon Jae-in on Monday called for sweeping military reforms, saying South Korea must become capable of matching the North’s asymmetric threats.
Speaking in front of the Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Veterans and Patriots Affairs, Moon said South Korea’s military capabilities do not match its economic scale and investment over the years.
Pointing out that South Korea’s gross domestic product is 45 times larger than that of North Korea, Moon said the country’s defense capabilities must be improved to match defense expenditures over the years.
President Moon Jae-in speaks in front of the Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Veterans and Patriots Affairs (Yonhap)
“North Korea has focused on asymmetric capabilities such as missiles and nuclear weapons, and we must secure means to respond,” Moon was quoted as saying by Cheong Wa Dae’s chief press secretary.
Saying he has “fundamental doubt” about where the funds have been directed, Moon reiterated the need for reforms to shed the image that Seoul “relies only on the capabilities of the alliance.”
Regarding corruption scandals in the defense industry, Moon suggested strengthening screening and monitoring of those involved in defense acquisition programs. Moon also said the government will do its best to fund defense reform measures, and the military must reorganize itself to become capable of offensive operations if North Korea “crosses the line or if Seoul and surrounding regions are attacked.”
“Our military’s mobility, landing and air capabilities should be improved, and a detailed timeline for establishing a three-axis system should be drawn up,” Moon said.
The “three-axis system” refers to the ability to launch a pre-emptive strike when signs of attack are detected and the use of an indigenous missile defense system. The final element of the system is the ability to respond to a North Korean missile attack with missile retaliation with much greater impact, referred to as Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation.
Regarding the Justice Ministry, Moon praised the new minister’s efforts to reduce the influence of the public prosecutors’ office in related state affairs, but called for further changes.
Saying that major tasks include establishing a new body for investigating high-level government officials suspected of corruption and rearranging investigative powers between the police and prosecutors, Moon urged the ministry to take the lead in freeing the country from unfair practices.
The Interior Ministry, for its part, briefed the president on plans for distributing authority from the central government to local governments, and to push to modify tax regulations to boost local governments’ finances.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com