Yoon Suk-yeol drops by neighbors, Defense Ministry, JCS
President Yoon Suk-yeol called for a "firm response" by the military to North Korean provocations during a visit to the Defense Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) headquarters on Monday.
Yoon's visit to the building, shared by the ministry and the JCS, was his first since his May 10 inauguration and the relocation of the presidential office to the defense ministry's previous headquarters.
Located 200 meters away from the presidential office in Yongsan District, central Seoul, the Defense Ministry building swarmed with a crowd of around 100 people before Yoon's arrival.
The president set out from the presidential office at 11:05 a.m. and was accompanied on the short walk to the ministry by Kim Sung-han, chief of the National Security Office, and Kim Yong-hyun, chief of the presidential security service.
Upon arriving at the ministry at 11:15 a.m., Yoon was greeted with a bouquet of flowers and an air force bomber jacket.
The jacket featured a blue rectangular nametag embroidered with the words, "20th President Yoon Suk-yeol" over the upper left section of the front, with the circular presidential seal affixed to the upper right portion.
Yoon, who immediately donned the jacket, joked, "I have to go to Itaewon to buy clothes because I'm fat and don't usually have clothes that fit me, so thank you so much for preparing a jacket that fits my body." The comment elicited laughter from the crowd.
Yoon's tour of the ministry was meant to underline his administration's focus on national defense as South Korea faces escalating threats from North Korea, which has conducted 17 missile tests this year alone and is believed to be preparing for its seventh nuclear weapons test, according to U.S. and South Korean intelligence.
His visit to the Defense Ministry came five days after he announced the replacement of several top military brass and named Kim Seung-kyum, the former vice commander of the Deputy Commander of Combined Forces Command, as the next JCS chairman.
"Our security situation is growing graver by the day, and without your commitment to national security, our economy and society would not be able to function properly," Yoon said in remarks to military officials and reporters.
Yoon apologized for the inconvenience caused by the move of the presidential office into the Defense Ministry's old headquarters, noting that ministry staff "worked very hard to move their workspace" and expressing his "deep gratitude" for accommodating the change.
After wrapping up his public greetings, Yoon entered a conference with Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and current JCS Chairman Won In-choul to discuss the country's defense posture, with chief and deputy commanders of the armed forces attending by video link.
At the meeting, Yoon said, "Our military should be ready under any circumstances to serve as a strong bulwark that protects the lives and property of the people," warning that South Korea would respond "firmly and sternly" in case of a North Korean provocation, according to a presidential office press release.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]