NK Fires Suspected Ballistic Missile After SK Elects New Hardline President

Not open for further replies.
NORTH KOREA - North Korea has reportedly fired an unidentified projectile toward the East Sea just days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to bolster its nuclear arsenal "at the fastest possible pace" and threatened to use them against rivals.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the Japanese Defense Ministry, reported the launch of the unidentified projectile from North Korea. Sources say the projectile was fired from Pyongyang Sunan Airport at about 12:03 pm local time.

The reported launch comes just days before South Korea's new, more conservative president-elect Yoon Suk Yeol officially takes office. Yoon said that he vows to solidify the country's alliance with the United States, build a powerful military and sternly cope with North Korean provocations.

Yoon had accused the previous president, Moon Jae-in of favoring relations with North Korea and China and neglecting relations with the United States. The North Korean leader Kim Jon-un, on the other hand, said that he appreciated the outgoing president's efforts to improve relations between the two countries.

Kim reportedly exchanged letters with the liberal outgoing president of South Korea expressing hope for improved inter-Korean ties. Kim received a 'personal' letter from Moon in late April expressing that he wanted the two countries to make joint declarations to establish 'the foundation' to reunify, even after he leaves office on May 9th according to North Korea's KCNA news agency.

Moon had said that the 'era of confrontation' should be overcome with dialogue, and that inter-Korean engagement is now a job for the next administration, according to spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee who told a briefing.

Kim's reply said that he appreciated the 'pains and effort' that Moon gave for the 'great cause of the nation' and said that the letter exchange was an 'expression of their deep trust'.

"Sharing the same view that the inter-Korean relations would improve and develop as desired and anticipated by the nation if the North and the South make tireless efforts with hope" the reply stated.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul stated, "This is an indirect message to the South’s new government that the North is pursuing a peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue but it won’t cooperate if Seoul is taking confrontational attitudes".

"It is laying the groundwork for justifying its provocative acts including the seventh nuclear test, shifting the responsibility for it to the South’s new conservative government’s hardline stance" he stated.

Yoon, however, who begins his five-year term on May 9th, says that he will make a stronger alliance with the United States and center foreign policy around the U.S, and voiced a need to recognize the importance of mending ties with Japan.

"I’ll rebuild the South Korea-U.S. alliance. I’ll (make) it a strategic comprehensive alliance while sharing key values like liberal democracy, a market economy and human rights" he stated. in a televised news conference.

"I’ll establish a strong military capacity to completely deter any provocation,” Yoon said. “I’ll firmly deal with illicit, unreasonable behavior by North Korea in a principled manner, though I’ll always leave open the door for South-North talks" he added.

In March, Yoon had described North Korea as South Korea's 'main enemy' and had vowed to harden the country's missile defenses and secure preemptive strike capability against any potential attacks.
Not open for further replies.