Holes in our defenses

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Holes in our defenses

The discovery of yet another North Korean drone in Samcheok, Gangwon, following earlier crashes of similar unmanned aerial vehicles in Paju, Gyeonggi, and Baengnyeong Island on the tense maritime border has exposed an obvious loophole in our air defense systems. Even as the three drones took pictures of our facilities on the east coast, the Blue House in Seoul and military bases around the Northern Limit Line on the Yellow Sea - all at close range - our military was not aware of it. We are dumbfounded at the idea that our military authorities could verify the infiltration of North Korean drones into our airspace only after reports by civilians - even after they crisscrossed our territory from east to west.

The military must take responsibility for a critical lack of preparedness for the North’s clandestine penetration despite its reliance on drone technology to overcome its inferiority in reconnaissance capabilities. After showing off various types of attack drones in a military parade in Pyongyang two years ago, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has visited military bases for drone operations four times since March 2013. “Uriminzokkiri,” North Korea’s state-run propaganda outlet, also mentioned the possibility of drone attacks against the presidential compound and the Capital Defense Command in Seoul last May.

Yet our military was blind to such an obvious threat. There must not be any blind spot in the security front. That’s the very lesson from the 2010 Cheonan sinking. After having launched an underwater attack on our warship, North Korea resorts to a new type of attack through drones.

North Korea will surely continue to rely on drone technology as it can maximize the effect of military provocation at a minimal cost. The serial Nos. 35, 24 and 6 written on the fuselage of the crashed drones suggest the likelihood of mass production. We can’t exclude the possibility that Pyongyang will launch a kamikaze attack using drones. North Korea is shifting the focus of its military strategy from conventional to asymmetrical warfare, as seen in its efforts to intensify nuclear capabilities together with penetrations through drones, special forces and cyberattacks. We urge our military to launch a colossal revamp of our air defense systems.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 8, Page 30

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