North won’t be called ‘main enemy’South Korea has decided not to redefine North Korea as a “main enemy” in its defense white paper this year, an official said yesterday, ending a review of the notion following the North’s recent deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island.
The term was first used to describe North Korea in a 1995 defense white paper after North Korea threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire.”
Seoul has toned down its description since 2004, describing the North as a “direct military threat” or an “existing military threat” in an apparent bid not to antagonize Pyongyang.
Defense ministry officials considered reviving the term in the 2010 defense white paper, due to be published early next year, amid mounting public criticism over the military’s inadequate response to North Korea’s Nov. 23 artillery strike on a western border island. Two marines and two civilians died in the Yeonpyeong Island shelling that marked the first attack on a civilian area since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
“Internally, the North Korean military is already defined as a main enemy and externally it is also described as an enemy,” said a defense official, explaining the ministry’s decision not to include the term in this year’s defense paper.
Some have argued for the need to clearly reinstate North Korea as a main enemy to remind soldiers of the threat posed by the North, which is also blamed for a torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in March that killed 46 sailors.