Let the North realize the price for provocation

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Let the North realize the price for provocation

One of the three ballistic missiles North Korea fired Wednesday morning fell into the waters about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Sokcho city on the east coast. Though the missile plunged into international waters in the East Sea, it is still close to our territorial waters. It is the first time that the recalcitrant state across the border fired a ballistic missile south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a maritime border between South and North Korea.

Shortly after the launch of missiles, an air-raid siren went off on Ulleung Island for the first time since the 1950-53 Korean War. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said North Korea shot at least 17 missiles to the East Sea and the Yellow Sea that morning. In addition, the North fired more than 100 rounds of shells to the buffer zone in the East Sea. North Korea committed utterly hostile acts toward South Korea while it is struggling with all the pain from the deadly crowd crush in Itaewon last week.

North Korea’s firing of a ballistic missile beyond the NLL shows that the primary target of its nuclear attacks is South Korea. We cannot rule out the possibility of the North threatening the South with a more direct and brazen way.

The reason for North Korea ratcheting up the level of provocation is obvious. It wants to force South Korea to succumb to its threat and drive a wedge in the South Korea-U.S. alliance to take the initiative in inter-Korean affairs. Its ultimate goal is getting international recognition as a nuclear weapons state. Such purposes can be read from the new type of provocation the North made while the South-U.S. joint air force drill is underway. Earlier, the North Korean military warned that the two allies will pay a “terrible price” for their “war exercises.”

Even if North Korea escalates tensions, South Korea cannot surrender to its belligerency. In response to the provocation, our fighter jets took off and fired a number of air-to-ground missiles toward North Korea. Such a proportional response based on reciprocity is a proper step for our military to take. The JCS must draw up even more precise response plans for every possible scenario. We can prevent North Korea from making a misjudgment only by reinforcing our joint response posture. South Korea must reaffirm the U.S. extended deterrence whenever chances are available, including the South-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in Washington.

The most effective way to stop the North’s provocation is letting it realize the heavy price it must pay. We must be more determined than ever before to defend the country and fight back when the time comes. Citizens must consolidate their sense of security. The whole nation must be united.
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