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N. Korean provocations cannot be ruled out: Park
By Kim Tae-gyu
President Park Geun-hye said Monday the government should be ready for any possibilities in the wake of last week’s execution of North Korea’s No. 2 man, Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong-un, including provocating actions along land and sea borders.
Park made the remark while chairing a meeting with security- and foreign affairs-related ministers to discuss the volatile situation in the North, the fourth of its kind since her inauguration in February.
“Regarding conditions on the Korean peninsula and our security status, things are very serious, and Park instructed the government to be ready for anything so people could focus on their jobs,” said Park’s senior press secretary Lee Jung-hyun.
“She said that the military and police should reinforce vigilance while seeking closer ties with the United States and our other allies through sharing intelligence and beefing up cooperation.”
During her weekly meeting with top aides early in the day, Park more clearly warned of potential aggression from the North. “The recent development in North Korea leads to uncertainty about how the situation there will evolve. We cannot rule out contingencies, like reckless provocations. The entire nation is required to be thoroughly prepared for all possibilities in light of the gravity and unpredictability of the current situation,” Park said.
In this climate, Park added that the military and police have to be more vigilant than usual, in particular in border areas such as islands in the West Sea where the Northern Limit Line (NLL) is demarcated.
The NLL, the de facto maritime border with North Korea, has been a major bone of contention between the two Koreas over the past several decades, and was cited as a reason for the North’s shelling of the border island of Yeonpyeong in 2010, which left four people dead, including two civilians. North Korea contends that the maritime demarcation line should be redrawn farther south than the NLL since it was unilaterally fixed by the United Nations Command at the end of the Korean War (1950-53).
Seoul has flatly rejected that request and President Park has vowed to keep the line where it is at all costs. Analysts believe that Pyongyang might try to spark a confrontation with the South by violating the NLL.
The dramatic downfall of Jang, who played a pivotal role in Kim Jong-un’s rise to power, prompted South Korea to keep an even closer eye on the reclusive regime.
On Dec. 13 when Jang’s execution was announced, Seoul immediately held a meeting to discuss how to respond to the situation. Monday’s meeting presided over by Park was the second.