Park annoyed with military over North’s drones

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Park annoyed with military over North’s drones

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Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, center, presides over a conference with major commanders from the entire armed forces yesterday, in the operations room of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Yongsan District, central Seoul, to discuss North Korea’s military threats, including drones. [NEWSIS]

President Park Geun-hye yesterday reprimanded the military’s top brass for failing to realize that North Korea was spying on South Korea using unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

“I think the fact that our military authority was not able to detect information about drones at all means there is a problem with the air-defense network and ground reconnaissance,” she said in a meeting with her senior secretaries at the Blue House.

Park stressed that Seoul should come up with measures that could instantly block or destroy any kind of intrusions from Pyongyang.

Her comments come after three digital-camera-equipped UAVs, or drones, were discovered in different regions: Paju in Gyeonggi, Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea and Samcheok in Gangwon.

The drone found in Paju took photos above the Blue House.

The one discovered in Gangwon crashed last October and was found by a nearby resident who didn’t report it until reading about the other two drones.

The government has concluded that all three were developed and operated by North Korea as part of its aerial reconnaissance of the South.

The president also used the meeting to reaffirm the preparatory steps to unification she proposed in Dresden during a trip to Germany two weeks earlier.

“North Korea is already breaking the promise agreed between South and North Korea not long ago to stop slandering each other,” she said.

“That makes it even more important for us to keep up with the effort to resolve humanitarian problems with North Koreans, to establish livelihood-related infrastructure and to restore the homogeneity between South and North Koreans.”

She also urged the secretaries in attendance to step up diplomatic efforts with international society to curb further provocations from the North.

Last month, Park outlined three agendas to lay the foundation for peaceful unification with the North - humanitarian outreach, co-prosperity and integration - as a follow-up to her announcement earlier this year that unification would be a “bonanza.”

One of the suggestions in the humanitarian agenda was to work with the United Nations on a program to provide health care to pregnant mothers and infants in North Korea through the infants’ first 1,000 days.

Meanwhile, Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin yesterday arranged a meeting of key officers at the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff headquarters to order them to work on scenarios of North Korea attacking South Korea’s air-defense network.

“Small-size unmanned aerial vehicles have emerged as a new form of threat, which makes countermeasures against them urgent,” he said.

The minister added that North Korea initially developed the drones to make up for its paucity of information on the South, but they could evolve into a means of infiltrating or terrorizing the South.

“All military forces should step up their readiness postures,” he said.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]


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