[Editorial] Too many loopholes on our security front

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[Editorial] Too many loopholes on our security front

Whenever North Korea provokes South Korea, our military is at a loss. Many loopholes on the security front only deepen public anxiety. Could our armed forces really win a battle against the North?

The peace offensive under the Moon Jae-in administration blunted people’s sense of national security. The liberal president’s infatuation with peace toward the recalcitrant state across the border led to a frequent suspension of our military drills over the past five years. Despite a massive military spending above 50 trillion won ($39.2 billion) each year, the so-called cutting-edge weapons malfunctioned often.

The successful flight of five North Korean drones into our air space on Monday points to the lax posture of our military. One of them flew over Seoul for three hours and may have taken aerial photos of sensitive military facilities without any constraint. Despite denial by our military authorities, the drone likely took pictures of the presidential office in Yongsan.

If the heart of Seoul is broken so easily, that sounds loud alarms. The Capital Defense Command of the Army has systems to defend against drone attacks, but it showed a lethargic response. In 2014, a hiker even helped the military find a North Korean drone that fell on Mt. Cheonggye in southern Seoul. If that’s not a comedy, what is?

Such cases are abundant. After our export of military weapons exceeded 25 trillion won for the first time, the government was busy bragging about the transformation of the country into the fourth largest military exporter in the world. But a closer look makes us disappointed. A KA-1 light attack aircraft crashed after taking off to shoot down the drones from North Korea. One of the two missiles the Army fired in response to the North’s firing in October of an intermediate-range ballistic missile went missing. A ballistic missile the Army shot on the same day to warn North Korea even fell on a golf course inside a military base.

That’s not all. Two Surion utility choppers had a midair collision in September and made an emergency landing. At the time of the North’s shelling on Yeonpyeong Island, two of the six self-propelled K-9 howitzers suffered an electronic glitch and one of the shells could not be fired.

In a full meeting of members of the Workers’ Party, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered “a stronger and more convincing strategy for attacks,” suggesting more provocations down the road. President Yoon Suk-yeol pledged to advance the establishment of a drone unit after the aerial penetration on Monday. But the National Assembly cut the budget for unmanned aerial vehicles and spy drones by 26 billion won. The legislature must revive it before it is too late.
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