Even as the joint military drills by South Korea and the United States are shifting to the offensive mode, South Korea’s spy agency alerted ruling party officials that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has recently ordered preparations for launching attacks on South Korea.
One official from the Saenuri Party, who attended Thursday’s closed-door briefing by the National Intelligence Service, says Kim’s spy agency has begun work to implement his order to “actively muster capabilities” to launch cyber and other attacks on South Korea.
North Korea has a history of attacks against South Korea, but it is impossible to independently confirm what is really happening in the secretive North.
The Saenuri official refused to say whether the briefing discussed how the information has been obtained.
He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media on the briefing.
The spy agency said the attacks could target anti-Pyongyang activists, defectors and government officials.
Call for tough terror law
Citing the heightened risk of North Korea instigating “terror attacks,” Seoul sought to push through a sweeping “anti-terrorism” law that has been blocked by opposition parties, Reuters reports.
The security bill proposes to establish a new anti-espionage unit that would report to the spy agency chief and will coordinate surveillance, analysis and investigation into leads that point to a possible attack.
The proposed law would give South Korea’s intelligence agency authority to monitor private communications.
The bill has met with resistance from the country’s liberal opposition parties, which say the spy agency is not politically impartial.
“The possibility of North Korea’s anti-South terrorism becoming reality is rising to an ever-higher level,” President Park Geun-hye’s public affairs secretary, Kim Sung-woo, said.
“We ask again that parliament swiftly pass the anti-terrorism law so that we have the legal and systematic foundation to protect the lives and property of the people.”
Drill with US to be expanded
A joint military excercise between South Korea and the US in March has been amped up in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.
The annual computer-simulated Key Resolve exercise will involve almost triple the number of US troops previously deployed, the Yonhap news agency quoted South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Goo as saying.
The US will send 15,000 soldiers, up from 3,700 last year, Han said, and South Korea will also increase its number of participants.
Key Resolve, which ran for 10 days last year, usually kicks off simultaneously with a field exercise known as Foal Eagle, another joint military drill which lasts some 50 days.
Foal Eagle is also expected to be the largest ever this year, attracting key US strategic assets such as a US airforce combat brigade, marines, a navy fleet led by an aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines, Yonhap said.