South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has vowed to respond more aggressively to military provocations by North Korea after Pyongyang sent drones into South Korea’s airspace earlier this week. Seoul not only revealed a $440 million military spending package in response to the incident but also called for its military to “punish” North Korea for its military actions.
Yoon met with his country’s National Security Office this week and instructed the office to react forcefully to future “provocations” from the DPRK. According to Yoon’s Press Secretary Kim Eun-hye, Yoon told the National Security Office “to punish and retaliate in no uncertain terms in response to any provocation by North Korea, saying that is the most powerful way to deter provocations.” Eun added that Yoon “also emphasized that we must not be fearful or hesitant just because North Korea has nuclear weapons.”
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The meeting with the National Security Office occurred days after North Korea flew 5 reconnaissance drones into South Korean airspace. Seoul scrambled aircraft in response to the breach of airspace, and despite the drones being in South Korean airspace for up to 7 hours, the South Korean military was not successful in shooting down any of Pyongyang’s drones.
In response to the incident, it was reported that Yoon “berated” South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup for not being able to shoot down any of the UAVs and said that it showed how Seoul’s military was “greatly lacking.” Yoon also promised to increase South Korea’s surveillance capabilities and air defense systems in response to the incident to prevent future occurrences.
On Wednesday, the Defense Ministry unveiled a $441 million military spending package to be spent over the next 5 years on multiple projects including the development of an “airborne laser” that can shoot down drones along with a new signal jammer.
The drone incident is just one of numerous recent aggressive military acts by North Korea. Pyongyang conducted more weapons tests this year than year prior. In response to the building threat, Seoul has increased its anti-submarine exercises with the US and has increased its live-fire military exercises with the US and Japan. North Korea has taken the military drills as Seol preparing for an attack. Meanwhile, the US, Japan, and South Korea have agreed to strengthen their military connections with one another as tensions rise with North Korea and China.