Stop the missilesNorth Korea’s show of force is getting ever bolder. It has been ratcheting up the level of threats by firing ballistic missiles and multiple rocket launchers around the tense Demilitarized Zone. On Monday, it fired more than 100 rounds of shells from multiple rocket launchers and artilleries near the military demarcation line (MDL) on the east coast in Goseong, Gangwon, to the north of the East Sea. That follows its firing of two Scud missiles from Kaesong - approximately 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away from the MDL on the western front - off to the East Sea.
Yesterday’s test-firing of missiles and multiple rocket launchers towards the East Sea took place in its southernmost area. Monday’s missiles and shells, which had a shooting range of 3 to 50 kilometers, fell on 1 to 10 kilometers above the Northern Limit Line on the East Sea. As the test-firing occurred in broad daylight, several columns of water were witnessed on the sea.
Many factors are involved with the North’s firing drills. First of all, the exercises are most likely aimed at countering the Eulji Freedom Guardian drill between South Korean military and the United States forces, scheduled for mid August. Since January, North Korea has consistently demanded the joint drills be stopped. On February 21, it fired multiple rocket launchers for the first time this year in protest of another joint military drill between South Korea and America despite the ongoing reunions of separated families. At the moment, USS George Washington, a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is anchored at Busan Harbor to join in the Eulji Freedom Guardian drill. Our military authorities must take into account the possibility that the North’s show of force continues for a while.
Other military experts have came up with the analysis that North Korea is raising tension to pressure South Korea to accept its proposals, including the cessation of mutual slanders. But it is a great mistake if the North believes it can achieve the goal by resorting to such an tense show of force. The North must understand that only when it stops its brazen military threats can its relations with the South improve as its leader Kim Jong-un allegedly hopes.
Our military should be fully prepared to deal with the possibility that the show of force leads to a direct provocation against us anytime soon. North Korea has already fired short- and-medium range missiles, multiple rocket launchers and other artilleries from its east coast across its territory into the East Sea. In some cases, Kim Jong-un himself visited the firing spot. It is high time for our military to thoroughly prepare for further provocations.
JoongAng Ilbo, July 15, Page 30