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The Missile Launch: Initial South Korean Reaction

by | December 12th, 2012 | 09:30 am

NK News reports on some of the political squabbling in South Korea over the missile launch ahead of the elections. The Moon camp argues that the launch revealed both an intelligence failure and a larger political failure to engage North Korea. The Saenuri camp accuses the DUP of naivite and outlines that President Park will combine an olive branch with appropriate toughness. A nuance of interest: the DUP bashes the government for its reliance on American intelligence, while the Saenuri spokesman briefly defends the relationship and emphasizes cooperation through the UN. Whether this will have any influence on the election is another issue; according to initial reactions from friends in Seoul, the public seems blasé about the test.

Nonetheless, we thought it would be useful to provide rough, initial translations of these initial South Korean reaction thanks to Jaesung Ryu and some editorial liberties:

Blue House (link), “ROK government statement regarding the missile launch by North Korea”

At 09:51:20, December 12, 2012, we have detected and confirmed the launching of a long-range missile from a North Korean launching facility located in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province, which North Korea conducted under the pretext of launching a “working satellite.”

Today’s launch by North Korea is clearly in violation of UNSCR 1874 and 1718 that prohibit any launch from North Korea that  uses ballistic missile technology. The launch is a challenge and a threat to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the world.

We strongly condemn such a provocation by North Korea, which was nevertheless committed despite repeated warnings and requests by the international community to cancel the launch. As outlined in the UNSC Presidential Statement of last April, North Korea will bear the responsibility for the launch.

In light of today’s launch, North Korea will face greater isolation from the international community. Instead of wasting the immense amount of resources in developing nuclear and missile technology, we urge once more that North Korea addresses the desperate needs of the people.

While we maintain our readiness against nuclear and missile threat as well as any provocative acts by North Korea, we will take appropriate measures by closely cooperating with our neighbors and the international community.

DUP (link) “We condemn both North Korea’s provocative act and the government’s incompetence in national security with regards to  North Korea.”

North Korea’s rocket launch is a grave provocation and [we] strongly condemn such an act.

North Korea’s rocket launch, undertaken despite efforts to dissuade it by its neighbors and our government’s objections, is clearly a provocation that increases tension on the Korean peninsula.

There are two things that surprised Korean citizens about North Korea’s rocket launch. They are surprised by the sudden news of North Korea’s launch, and once again surprised by the Saenuri LMB administration’s incompetence in national security.

Our government explained that the rocket was dismantled.

The LMB administration’s national security incompetence is reflected in not being able to confirm whether a 20 story-sized rocket was dismantled or launched; this is the primary source of our insecurity.

The Korean people will not give another 5-year opportunity to the Saenuri party government that has demonstrated incompetence in national security as well as intelligence failure. The government will not be able to avoid questioning over its responsibility with respect to North Korean intelligence and national security.

The 10-year democratic administration [of Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun] was capable of winning as well as engaging in dialogue regarding North Korea. During that time, the government was always at the center of international cooperation with respect to the North Korean nuclear and missile programs. The people will judge the incompetence demonstrated by the Saenuri-LMB administration harshly, as it failed to provide any intelligence on its own and simply relied on military intelligence from the U.S. and Japan.

Park Yong Jin

Moon Jae In campaign spokesperson

Saenuri party (link) “With regards to the long-range missile launch by North Korea”

North Korea pushed forward with the launching of its long-range missile. The missile was launched at 9:51 this morning and passed over Beakryong island at 9:53. It has been increasingly known that North Korea has acquired ICBM technology with a range of 10,000km (about 6,200 miles). This is a serious provocation to the security of the Korean peninsula and international peace. Our government’s Ministry of National Defense has been carefully watching any indications for North Korea’s launch preparations in cooperation with the U.S., which has the world’s best intelligence capability. Our government should deal with North Korea’s  provocation, as seen in this blitzkrieg missile launch, with heightened alertness. North Korea is prohibited from any launch that uses ballistic missile technology by UNSCR 1718 and 1874. [These restrictions were put in place] because North Korea intends to acquire the means for nuclear warhead delivery. As seen in the past, North Korea conducted a nuclear test following a long-range missile launching test.

The DUP spokesperson’s comment saying that “it is not confirmed whethe North Korea has a long-range rocket or not despite the fact that it launched a long-range rocket” is simply ignorant of the reason why the international community is concerned and opposed to North Korea’s long-range missile test, not to mention a shallow level of understanding. Does the DUP take North Korea’s sophistry, claiming that space exploration is a global trend, at face value? North Korea spent $850 million to launch a long-range missile. $850 million dollars amount to a year’s worth of corn that can feed 19 million North Koreans. It is equivalent to 2.5 million tonnes worth of corn, a year’s worth of food supply for the people in North Korea.

North Korea should recognize the fact that it is facing greater isolation by the international community. We re-emphasize that the Saenuri party presidential candidate Park Geun-hye’s ‘trustpolitik’ is based on strong national security while it seeks dialogue, humanitarian assistance and mutually beneficial cooperation with North Korea. Our government should take strong measures against North Korea’s missile provocation that harms the security and peace of the Korean peninsula, Northeast Asia and the international community not only through the Six Party Talks but  also in cooperation with the international community, especially the United Nations. [We] need to firmly deal with matters that threatens the safety and security of the Republic of Korea and the lives of the Republic of Korea citizens.

Spokesperson’s Office of the Saenuri Party