South Korea’s defense ministry released their biennial “Defense White Paper 2010” Thursday, labeling North Korea as an “enemy” for the first time since former president Roh Moo-hyun stopped using the term in 2004.
In the paper, the phrase “the North Korean government’s military is our enemy” is used repeatedly, according to the South Korea-based Hankyoreh newspaper. And a defense ministry official was quoted as saying the ministry means to send a strong message to Pyongyang by using the phrase.
Lü Chao, the director of the North and South Korea Research Center at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that calling the North an enemy is a bold move for the South Korean government, given the fact that the defense white paper is an official document open to the public.
“It is very rare for other countries to use the term ‘enemy’ in any other similar official documents, let alone in a defense white paper,” Lü added.
Lü said the “enemy” title could irritate the North, though South Korean President Lee Myung-bak conceded Wednesday that the framework of the Six-Party Talks is the only way to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program.
The defense paper also reveals that North Korea has been focusing on increasing its military might.
The ministry said the size of North Korean special forces had risen to 200,000 over the past two years, according to AFP. It also confirmed that Pyongyang has deployed its new battle tank, the Pokpung-ho (Storm Tiger),
And the North’s frontline 170-millimeter self-propelled artillery and 240-millimeter multiple rocket launchers are reported to be capable of carrying out a “massive surprise bombardment” of Seoul and neighboring areas.
The revealing of this information in the white paper, according to Lü, aims at uniting South Koreans, preparing them for raised tensions and making them realize that the development of military might is important.
However, according to a BBC report, South Korea has concluded that an outright attack from the North was unlikely, considering the presence of about 28,000 US forces in the South.
South Korea has been carrying out reforms in its national defense system. However, the problem of the South relying on the US too much militarily is still difficult to solve, said Cai Jian, deputy director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University.
Lee’s shift to a tougher North Korea policy “has prompted modest but growing concern” in the US administration, “where officials worry that an overly aggressive South Korea could become a liability in its own right,” the Washington Post commented.
Agencies contributed to this story