Park wants to preempt a ‘miscalculation’ by North

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Park wants to preempt a ‘miscalculation’ by North

President Park Geun-hye hosted her first ministerial meeting of foreign affairs and security officials at the Blue House yesterday to discuss escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

“It is indispensable for us to strongly retaliate against a North Korean attack,” Park was quoted as saying by her spokesman, Yoon Chang-joong. “But it is also important to stop North Korea from even thinking about a provocation.”

According to Yoon, Park asked her security officials to be fully ready for any contingency based on realistic assessments of the current situation. “From now on, I will host a security ministerial meeting or the national security council meeting frequently to counter the development of the situation,” she said.

The meeting lasted for about one hour and 30 minutes. Its participants included the defense minister, unification minister, chief of the National Intelligence Service, presidential chief of staff, Blue House chief of national security and senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security. The vice foreign minister attended on behalf of the foreign minister, who was in the United States.

The meeting was decided abruptly by Park Monday evening, a Blue House official said, and the participants were not informed until yesterday morning, prompting speculation about worrying development in the North.

“The meeting was to resolve the people’s insecurity about the situation and to pre-emptively deter a miscalculation by the North,” said another presidential aide.

Over the past weeks, the two Koreas have exchanged barrages of strong words, and Park’s messages to the North became increasingly strong.

Since her inauguration, Park has stressed the importance of trust-building with the North, but that theme conspicuously disappeared since her speech at the third anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan warship on March 26, 2010. Her remarks on Monday were particularly aggressive as she ordered the military to not hesitate to retaliate against the North.


By Ser Myo-ja, Shin Yong-ho [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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