South Korean defense paper dubs DPRK 'enemy', again
Signaling a further hardening of stance toward Pyongyang, South Korea refers to its neighbor as its "enemy" in a defense paper for the first time in six years.
A country usually makes extreme efforts to prevent instabilities with its direct neighbors. However, South Korea referred to its neighbor DPRK as its "enemy" in a defense paper on Thursday for the first time in six years, signaling a further hardening of Seoul's stance toward Pyongyang.
Since the 1950-53 Korean War concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, the two countries have remained officially at war.
As South Korea weaves closer ties with the US, DPRK's leader declared last year that his country is an "irreversible" nuclear power, conducting weapon tests nearly every month, including the launch of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Adding salt to injury, Seoul's new conservative administration has increased joint drills with Washington, not to mention referring to Pyongyang as the South's "enemy" in a new defense white paper.
North Korea "designated us as an 'undoubted enemy'" in December 2022, the paper, formally disclosed Thursday, said. "As a result, the North Korean dictatorship and military, which are the major agents of the actions, are our adversaries," it added.
The move exemplified the condition of inter-Korean ties, which are "filled with confrontations," AFP quoted Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, as saying.
"It even gives the impression of a return to the Cold War era," he added.
The phrase "enemy" was first used in South Korea's biannual defense white paper in 1994 after a DPRK official vowed to pour "a sea of fire" on the South, and it remained used until roughly 2000.
It was suspended for a few years until it reappeared in 2010. It was dropped once more under Seoul's former president Moon Jae In who advocated for dialogue with Pyongyang.
South Korea's current President, Yoon Suk Yeol, took over from Moon in May last year, vowing to get tough on DPRK.