South Korean Military unveils tentative defense reform plan

FILE : South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (C) encourages army soldiers during his visit to a military observation post of the front-line unit in the demilitarized zone in Yanggu, far northeast of Seoul, December 23, 2010. REUTERS/Blue House/Handout

Feb 7 (KATAKAMI.COM) — The Defense Ministry`s latest reform plan is known to include the reintroduction of extra credit for serving in the military, reduction in the number of generals, an active deterrent strategy, and a new headquarters near the five border islands in the Yellow Sea.

A military official said Sunday, “Personnel appointments will be made in April to facilitate the establishment of a new military command in the Yellow Sea islands. Personnel affairs should be resolved first to speed up the establishment.”

The ministry was planning to report Monday its 24-point defense reform package to President Lee Myung-bak, but postponed it because the presidential office asked to include the formation of an inspection team for defense reform promotion.

On the improvement of military decision-making, the ministry will urge a balance of proportion of officers in key decision-making posts from the armed forces. The details will be decided after discussion, however, which will likely spur disputes among relevant parties.

The Defense Advancement Promotion Committee had earlier stipulated the balancing of the number of top decision-making officers in the armed forces under a 1:1:1 ratio and the number of manager-level officials at the ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff under a 2:1:1 ratio.

On military capacity, the ministry will also distinguish areas to be enhanced from those to be trimmed.

The ministry will reduce the number of spike missiles from 130 to 90 and use the savings to expand other military capacity. In the wake of North Korea`s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year, the government decided to deploy spike missiles in case of further provocations.

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin is known to have ordered the reduction of the missile deployment in a meeting. “Missile attacks are symbolic in that they threaten the enemy in the early stages of provocations, but attacking with combat planes equipped with more weapons is more effective,” he said.

Developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense System, a spike missile has a range of 25 kilometers and can directly be fired at the North’s coastal artillery facilities 12 kilometers from Yeonpyeong. It can also destroy cannons in rear areas through video equipment.

One spike missile costs 800 million won (718,488 U.S. dollars), according to the ministry.

The number of tanks will also be reduced. Minister Kim said, “In our military environment, we don`t need all 2,300 battle tanks. When our military comes to attack North Korea with tanks, the North Korean military would`ve already been beaten by our Air Force.”

Vice Defense Minister Lee Yong-geol is known to be considering putting as a lower priority the K-2 battle tank in defense spending. The South Korean military has 2,400 tanks and North Korea 4,100, according to Seoul`s 2010 defense white paper. (*)

Source : The Donga A Ilbo

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Koreas should discuss nukes before six-party talks can reopen: Lee adviser

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak

 

SEOUL, Jan. 27 (KATAKAMI / Yonhap) — North Korea must show its genuine willingness to denuclearize in dialogue with South Korea if the communist state wants to see the restart of six-party talks on its nuclear programs, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s top security adviser said Thursday.

The comments by Chun Yung-woo come as the two Koreas are planning to hold their first military talks in months after the North sharply raised tensions by shelling a South Korean island on Nov. 23.

South Korea proposed earlier this week that the sides hold a preliminary meeting on Feb. 11. The North, which had first proposed high-level defense talks to defuse tension, has yet to respond.

Speaking in a speech in Seoul, Chun said the planned dialogue would serve as a “test bed” for North Korea to show that it has turned around from its pursuit of nuclear arms.

“Six-party talks resumed without the commitment to abandon nuclear programs will merely be talks for the sake of talks and a venue for North Korea to buy time,” Chun told a group of unification activists. “If the sincerity is confirmed, we will then resume the six-party talks and discuss in which order and through which plan (denuclearization) will be achieved.”

Chun’s comments are the strongest affirmation yet that inter-Korean dialogue is the door to the resumption of the multinational denuclearization-for-aid talks that group the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, Japan and China.

In their summit in Washington last week, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao also called for “sincere and constructive” dialogue between the two Koreas while expressing concern over deepening nuclear development in the North.

Chun said North Korea has incurred an estimated annual economic loss of US$300 million since South Korea suspended cross-border trade over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

The price of rice in North Korea also doubled in the past three months, he said, describing Pyongyang as “very desperate” for aid that would facilitate its ongoing hereditary power succession.

“North Korea has kicked away its own lifeline” by going ahead with provocative acts, including the deadly Nov. 23 bombardment of a South Korean Yellow Sea island and its nuclear tests, Chun said.

“Denuclearization is possible when (the North) is faced with having to choose between either denuclearizing or not,” he said, calling the latter a choice with “no future.”

Chun, who used to represent South Korea in the six-party talks, said his government is not preoccupied with drawing apologies from the North over the warship sinking and island shelling last year, but that there is “no reason why the North should not apologize.”

“No progress will be made if (North Korea) behaves irrationally” in its military talks with South Korea by seeking rice and fertilizer aid instead of genuine reconciliation, Chun said.

“We’re trying to see whether or not the North is only trying to extract something from inter-Korean talks,” he said. “We have been cheated many times by peace offensives, but we no longer shall be.”

The two Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. After a decade of thawing, the relations between the Koreas deteriorated as President Lee, upon taking office in 2008, made denuclearization his top policy priority in dealing with the North.  (*)

 

 

South Korea's president calls island attack an opportunity for change

A man watches a broadcast of South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak's New Year policy address in Seoul on Monday.

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January 3, 2011 (KATAKAMI / CNN) — South Korea’s president said Monday the country should respond to the attack on Yeonpyeong Island the same way the United States reacted to the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York — by using the event as an opportunity to reflect on security and overhaul the country’s defenses.

Speaking during his New Year’s address, President Lee Myung-bak called the November attack a turning point and warned North Korea that any future “provocations” would be met with “stern, strong responses.”

“The shelling of Yeonpyeong Island … served as an opportunity for us to reflect on our security readiness and overhaul our defense posture,” he said. “Peace cannot be obtained without a price.”

Tensions have been running high between North and South Korea ever since the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan last March, killing 46 sailors.

Full coverage of the Koreas’ conflict

South Korea and the international community blamed the North for the sinking, but Pyongyang has denied the accusations.

Last month, North Korea said the South’s navy fired into Northern waters and, in retaliation, it shelled Yeonpyeong Island, killing four South Koreans.

“We cannot let North Korea covet even an inch of our territory. Any provocation that would pose a threat to our lives and property will not be tolerated,” said Lee.

Over the weekend, officials in North Korea called for better ties with South Korea, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. North Korea urged dialogue and cooperation in 2011 and asked the South to end its military exercises.

South Korea’s president said in his televised address that North Korea needs to work toward peace with deeds as well as with words.

“I remind the North that the path toward peace is yet open. The door for dialogue is still open. If the North exhibits sincerity, we have both the will and the plan to drastically enhance economic cooperation together with the international community,” he said.

The U.S. special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, is expected to travel to South Korea, China and Japan this week to discuss next steps on the Korean Peninsula. His first stop is Seoul. (*)

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak says door for inter-Korean dialogue still open

Jan. 1, SEOUL, South Korea -- President Lee Myung-bak gives a New Year's message at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Jan. 1. (Yonhap)

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SEOUL, Jan. 3 (KATAKAMI / Yonhap) — South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that the door for inter-Korean dialogue remains open but North Korea should first show its seriousness about the talks.

“I remind the North that the path toward peace is yet open. The door for dialogue is still open,” Lee said in his New Year’s address broadcast live.  (*)

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak delivers New Year's message

Jan. 1, SEOUL, South Korea -- President Lee Myung-bak gives a New Year's message at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Jan. 1. (Yonhap)

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SEOUL, Jan. 1 (KATAKAMI / Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak expressed confidence Saturday that South Korea will bring peace to the peninsula and attain further economic development in the new year.

“In the new year of 2011, I am confident that we will be able to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and continue sustained economic growth,” Lee said in his New Year’s message. “I believe in the potential of the Korean people who always come together and turn crises into opportunities.”

He said the country’s fortunes are on an upswing in the international community.

He pointed out that South Korea achieved 5-percent economic growth, the highest among OECD member countries, in 2010 and became the world’s seventh largest exporting nation. South Korea also successfully hosted the G-20 economic summit and forged free trade agreements with the European Union and the United States, he said.

“Even though our land is small, our economic territory has become the largest in the world,” he said. “Korea has now emerged as a hub of free trade.”

The president said those achievements can be ascribed to the painstaking efforts by all Korean people.

“We should not let the chance to increase our national fortunes slip away. We must not hesitate to leap over the threshold to become an advanced country,” he said.  (*)



MS

South Korea's Lee says talks the answer to nuclear crisis

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (C) encourages army soldiers during his visit to a military observation post of the front-line unit in the demilitarized zone in Yanggu, far northeast of Seoul, December 23, 2010. REUTERS/Blue House/Handout

 

December 29, 2010 SEOUL (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has vowed a tough stance against any further attack by North Korea, said on Wednesday the nuclear crisis must be tackled by negotiation.

Lee also called for fresh dialogue between the rival Koreas, saying a hardline military policy alone by Seoul, while offering an effective deterrent, will not ease the tension.

Stalled talks by six countries, which the North walked out of two years ago, were the only available forum to end the North’s nuclear program in return for economic aid and diplomatic recognition, Lee said at a policy briefing by the Foreign Ministry.

“I think removal of the North Korea nuclear programs should be achieved through six-party talks next year as North Korea targets 2012 for its achievement of a power country,” he said.

North Korea attacked the southern island of Yeonpyeong on Nov 23, killing four people. It was also blamed by the United States and South Korea for sinking a South Korean naval vessel in March, killing 46 sailors.

Like the United States, South Korea has signaled that it is loath to restart the diplomatic process — also involving China, Japan, and Russia — unless its reclusive neighbor shows steps toward completely dismantling its nuclear program.

China, the North’s main ally and economic backer, has called for a restart of the six-party talks without preconditions.

Lee said South Korea, however, must not let down its military guard against the North.

“Ensuring peace on the Korea peninsula is an important task going forward but this can’t be done with diplomacy only. I think we need strong defense capabilities and unity among the people should be achieved as prerequisites.”

But he made a fresh call for dialogue between the rivals, saying: “There must be efforts also to try to establish peace through dialogue between the South and the North.”

Lee has come under pressure over a perceived weak response to the Yeonpyeong attack that raised tension on the peninsula to the highest level since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Lee last week vowed “a merciless counterattack” against any fresh North Korean assaults as the South Korean army held rare large-scale military drills near the border in a demonstration of military might.  (*)

President Lee Myung-bak orders swift military reform to tackle N. Korea's provocation

FILE : South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, center, arrives with Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, second right, at the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the military was put on top alert after North Korea's artillery attack on South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Yonhap)

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SEOUL, Dec. 28 (KATAKAMI / Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak called Tuesday for “quick and bold” military reform, saying public misgivings about South Korea’s defense posture have deepened throughout this year.

Presiding over a weekly Cabinet meeting, this year’s last session, Lee said the country’s 6.1 percent economic growth and falling youth jobless rates in 2010 have been overshadowed by security loopholes laid bare by a series of North Korean attacks.  (*)

South Korea must unite to survive, says President Lee Myung-bak

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak

 

December 27, 2010 (KATAKAMI / BBC) — South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has told his nation it must unite in the face of military aggression from the North.

Mr Lee said in a national radio address that what was at stake was “the survival of this nation”.

He added: “If [we] are afraid of war, we can never prevent war.”

The Korean peninsula has been tense since the North shelled the Southern island of Yeonpyeong last month, killing four people.

On Sunday, it was announced that South Korean and Chinese defence ministers would meet in Beijing in February amid the rising tension.
‘Sacred war’

In his broadcast on Monday, Mr Lee said: “We can’t afford to have division of you against me in the face of national security, because what’s at stake is our very lives and the survival of this nation.”

Mr Lee said divisions of opinion after the North’s alleged sinking of a Southern warship in March with the loss of 46 sailors had led to the North’s attack on Yeonpyeong island.

He said: “It is when we show solidarity as one that the North dares not challenge us. Their will to challenge breaks.”

South Korea has carried out a number of recent exercises

Mr Lee added: “We have clearly realised the fact that only strong counteractions to military provocations are able to deter war and safeguard peace.”

His government came in for some criticism at home as weak after the Yeonpyeong attack.

Mr Lee said he had learned “valuable lessons”.

Since the incident the South has replaced its defence minister and embarked on a series of military exercises while ratcheting up its rhetoric.

The North has not retaliated militarily but amid the rising tension last week vowed a “sacred war”.

Pyongyang denies the South’s claim that it sank the warship. It also says its shelling of the island was retaliation for a South Korean firing drill that dropped shells into North Korean territory.

At the end of his speech, Mr Lee said the South still wanted peaceful reunification with the North.

On Sunday, defence officials said that South Korea’s Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin and his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie were organising talks in the Chinese capital in February, but added that details of the meeting agenda would be discussed later. (*)

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak says artillery drills 'natural' for national defense

President Lee Myung-bak

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SEOUL, Dec. 20 (KATAKAMI / Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that the South Korean military’s artillery drills from the western border island of Yeonpyeong were an appropriate move aimed at protecting the country’s territory and that no other country can take issue with them, according to Lee’s office.

“It is natural for a sovereign country to conduct a military exercise for territorial defense,” especially as it is a divided nation with military confrontation, Lee was quoted as saying. “Nobody can meddle in it.”

The president made the remarks while receiving briefings on the 90-minute live-ammunition training near the tense Yellow Sea border, said Hong Sang-pyo, senior secretary for public affairs at Lee’s office Cheong Wa Dae.

Lee also ordered the government to stay on full alert against possible provocations by the North when he visited the crisis management center at the underground bunker of Cheong Wa Dae, Hong said.

The South’s military pressed ahead with the artillery firing as scheduled despite the North’s threats of a military response and formal requests from China and Russia for the cancellation of the training plan. There was no immediate report of unusual activity by the North following the end of the drills.

Monday’s firing had political implications beyond a simple military exercise, with the North refusing to accept the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas.

The two sides remain technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a cease-fire, not a binding peace treaty. The navies of the two sides were engaged in skirmishes in the western waters near the NLL, drawn by the U.N. troops at the end of the war, in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

Pyongyang claims that the Yellow Sea border actually lies far south of the NLL.

Most recently, the North abruptly shelled Yeonpyeong Island last month, killing two marines and two construction workers. It claimed it was a self-defensive measure in response to the South’s naval drills in its waters at that time.


Meanwhile, the South Korean president stressed the importance of national unity against the North’s provocation.

“It is important for our people to be united,” Lee said.

“Should public opinions be split, the enemy will try to exploit it, even if our defense capability is strong and superb,” the president said as he was briefed by the home ministry on its major works next year.

His remarks were viewed as intended to head off political attacks from opposition parties. How to deal with the nuclear-armed communist neighbor is a longstanding source of ideological disputes in South Korea.

The main opposition Democratic Party had called for the South’s military to scrap its plan to stage the live-ammunition drills in the tense Yellow Sea, saying maintaining peace is a top priority.

Cheong Wa Dae confirmed a news report that Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), and Washington’s ambassador to Seoul, Kathleen Stephens, visited Cheong Wa Dae during the weekend.

Their visit was to discuss the issue of the artillery training on Yeonpyeong Island, and they frequently consult with Cheong Wa Dae officials, presidential spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung said in a separate press briefing.

“The U.S. side said that it supports South Korea’s military training plan irrespective of North Korea’s response and that it will stay with us whatever happens,” Kim said. (*)

President Lee Myung-bak rebukes ministers for response to N. Korean provocation

 

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SEOUL, Nov. 30 (KATAKAMI / Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak reproached his Cabinet members Tuesday for not having the right sense of crisis at a time when South Korea’s national security is at stake, Lee’s office Cheong Wa Dae said, apparently mindful of persistent public outcry over the administration’s response to North Korea’s latest military attack.

“We should recognize that (South Korea) is confronting the world’s most belligerent group,” Lee was quoted as saying in a weekly Cabinet meeting. But there seems to be a perception that dealing with a national crisis is a task for only the defense ministry, he said, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung.

He was presiding over the first Cabinet meeting since the North’s attack on the populated island of Yeonpyeong, just south of the tense inter-Korean border in the Yellow Sea, a week ago. The attack killed two marines and two civilians, with nearly 20 others wounded.

“In a divided nation, national security is not relevant to the defense ministry alone. It is a matter for all ministries,” Lee said.

The president stressed that Cabinet members should enhance their own awareness of national security first before asking the public to do so.

Lee’s comments came amid unrelenting public criticism that the government had fumbled its initial response to the artillery barrage, leading to the resignation of Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and a wave of anti-Pyongyang protests here.

“In a national emergency situation, all Cabinet members must return to their duties regardless of whether they were at the National Assembly or elsewhere,” Lee said.

He was apparently referring to the defense minister, who was late to the emergency security meeting at Cheong Wa Dae convened shortly after the North’s attack last week due to his attendance at a parliamentary committee.

Delivering a Trade Day speech later in the day, meanwhile, Lee said South Korea is still on track to become the world’s seventh-largest exporter despite North Korea’s continued military provocations and threats, proof of the international community’s trust in the country’s economy.

“This is exactly the time for all of us to fulfill our duties in our respective places,” he said during an event marking the Trade Day.

South Korea’s exports are expected to jump more than 28 percent this year to a record high of more than US$460 billion and again by more than 11 percent next year to reach $520 billion. The major Asian economy is projected to top US$1 trillion in total trade volume next year.

Le said stable economic indicators, including stocks and the currency exchange rate, in spite of the soaring military crisis are evidence that South Korea’s economy has matured and that the international community has high confidence in it.  (*)

Full text of President Lee Myung-bak's address to the nation

Nov. 29, SEOUL, South Korea -- President Lee Myung-bak encourages field commanders after being briefed by Gen. Walter Sharp (L), commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, on an ongoing Korea-U.S. joint drill in the Yellow Sea during his visit to the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command in Euijeongbu, north of Seoul, on Nov. 29. (Photo courtesy of presidential office) (Yonhap)

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November 29, 2010. (KATAKAMI /YONHAP NEWS) The following is the full text of President Lee Myung-bak’s address to the nation on Monday (Nov 29, 2010) :

Fellow Koreans,
Today, I am standing here keenly aware that I am responsible for not having been able to protect the lives and property of the people. I understand very well that you were greatly disappointed with how we responded to the shelling of Yeonpyeongdo (Yeonpyeong Island) by North Korea.

I feel enormous frustration and regret over the fact that innocent lives were lost and the homes and livelihood of the islanders were devastated.

I pray for the repose of the souls of Staff Sergeant Seo Jung-woo and Lance Corporal Moon Kwang-wook as well as the two civilian casualties-Mr. Kim Chi-baek and Mr. Bae Bok-chul. I also once again extend my heartfelt condolences to their families. I hope that those who were injured will recover quickly. I promise to urgently come up with the comprehensive measures to help the islanders of Yeonpyeongdo.

Fellow citizens,
North Korea’s provocation this time was entirely different and unprecedented in nature. Since the end of the Korean War, the North has perpetrated numerous provocations, but it has never launched a direct attack onto our territory before. Making matters worse, it indiscriminately shelled the island where some 1,400 residents are peacefully living.

A military attack against civilians is strictly prohibited even in time of war; it is a crime against humanity.

\ Only a few meters away from where shells landed, there is a school where classes were going on. I am outraged by the ruthlessness of the North Korean regime, which is even indifferent to the lives of little children.
Countries around the world are joining us in denouncing North Korea.

We have thus far tolerated provocations by the North time and again. On January 21, 1968, North Korean commandos infiltrated into Seoul with the intent of killing the President. A bomb explosion in Rangoon, Burma, set off by North Korean agents, killed many high-ranking South Korean Government officials who were accompanying the President. The North has already tried and failed twice to kill the South Korean head of state. North Korean agents blew up a civilian airplane in 1987, taking the lives of 115 passengers.

South Korea nonetheless endured these continual provocations because we entertained a slight hope that the North would change course someday and an unwavering commitment to peace on the Korean Peninsula. Over the past 20 years, therefore, South Korea has striven to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through dialogue and collaboration while at the same time providing unstinted humanitarian assistance.

North Korea, on the other hand, responded with a series of provocative acts, including the development of a nuclear program, the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan by an explosion and the shelling of Yeonpyeongdo.

At long last, we came to a realization that it no longer makes sense for us to anticipate that the North would abandon its nuclear program or its policy of brinkmanship on its own. The South Korean people now unequivocally understand that prolonged endurance and tolerance will spawn nothing but more serious provocations.

Those who have so far supported the North Korean regime might now see its true colors.

We are aware of the historic lesson that a disgraceful peace achieved through intimidation only brings about greater harm in the end. Only courage that defies retreat under any threat or provocation will bring about genuine peace. If the North commits any additional provocations against the South, we will make sure that it pays a dear price without fail.

I have confidence in the courage and potential of the citizens of Korea. We are a great people who, as of this year, have built the world’s seventh largest export powerhouse in the face of the North’s incessant menace and belligerence. In the current national crisis situation, the Korean people have demonstrated patriotism and composure.

Many young men and women went to the wake of the young soldiers who were killed in action. Citizens have volunteered to collect donations and have gone about their business with fortitude. The Republic of Korea is going to be safe and sound because of you.

There was a split in public opinion over the torpedoing of the Cheonan. Unlike that time, our people have united as one this time. Amid such unity and determination, any surreptitious attempt to create divisiveness in the nation will have no chance of success. Along with all the citizens of the Republic, I will never retreat.

The international community, too, is supporting us. Leaders of the United States, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom as well as Russia and many other countries condemned the act of brutality by the North and are standing in full support of our position. Especially, as our ally, the United States has demonstrated a strong resolve to respond by taking action.

Fellow Koreans,
The courageous members of our Armed Forces have fought well. Some soldiers dashed to fulfill their duties without even noticing that the camouflage on their helmets had caught fire in the barrage of live shells. Those who were on leave of absence promptly returned to their units.

Citizens of Korea,
From now on, the Government will do whatever is required of it without fail.

The Government will establish Armed Forces that live up to their name. We will defend the five West Sea Islands near the northern sea border with a watertight stance against any kind of provocation. We will proactively carry out the defense reform as planned in order to make our Armed Forces even stronger.

Fellow Koreans,
Now is the time we have to demonstrate our determination with actions rather than many words.

I plead with you to have confidence in the Government and the Armed Forces and rally around our cause.

Unity is the best national security measure.

Thank you very much.

(END)

President Lee Myung-bak calls N. Korea's attack 'inhumane,' calls for national unity

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak

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SEOUL, Nov. 29 (Yonhap) — South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Monday strongly condemned North Korea’s recent shelling of a South Korean border island, saying an attack against civilians is an “inhumane” crime strictly prohibited even during a war.

“I can’t contain my anger over the North Korean regime’s cruelty that ignores even the lives of children,” Lee said in a televised speech.

He pledged that Seoul will make Pyongyang pay a price corresponding to any future provocations.

Lee said the North’s deadly artillery strike on Yeonpyeong Island, where about 1,400 people resided, shows that it would be hard to expect the communist nation to abandon its nuclear program and military brinkmanship.

Lee appealed to the South Korean people for unity, saying a “unified people” would take national security to its strongest level.  (*)

President Lee checks follow-up measures after N. Korea's deadly attack

File : South Korean President Lee Myung-bak receives a briefing at the control centre of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Defence Ministry in Seoul November 23, 2010. North Korea on Tuesday fired dozens of artillery shells at a South Korean island, setting buildings on fire and prompting a return of fire by the South, Seoul's military and media reports said. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Jo Bo-Hee/Yonhap )

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SEOUL, Nov. 27 (KATAKAMI / Yonhap) — South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was presiding over a security-related meeting on Saturday to check follow-up measures after North Korea fired a barrage of shots on a South Korean island earlier this week, officials said.

The meeting also comes one day before the U.S. and South Korea are set to begin military exercises in the Yellow Sea in a show of force that North Korea warned will take the peninsula to the “brink of war.”

Lee was discussing measures to counter another possible North Korean attack and studying ways to levy sanctions on the communist state, according to the officials.

On Tuesday, North Korea fired artillery on Yeonpyeong Island, a populated island in the Yellow Sea, killing four people, including two civilians.

The North Korea’s attack marked the first civilian deaths in an attack since the bombing of a South Korean airliner in 1987.

South Korea and the U.S. were set to launch large-scale naval exercises Sunday in another potent show of force against North Korea.

The nuclear-powered USS George Washington, with more than 6,000 sailors and 75 fighter jets aboard, prepared for the naval drills with South Korea in the Yellow Sea. The drills are set to run through Wednesday, and about 10 warships have been mobilized for the exercises.  (*)

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