|Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo speaks in a media briefing at its headquarters in Seoul, in this file photo taken in November last year. / Yonhap|
By Lee Min-hyung
The Ministry of National Defense said Friday it will stop using provocative military terms against North Korea to reflect the ongoing peace momentum on the Korean Peninsula.
In a medium-term strategic planning report, the ministry replaced phrases, such as "Kill Chain" and "Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMRP)," with new ones using toned-down rhetoric.
Kill Chain refers to a pre-emptive strike system against possible missile threats from North Korea ― the ministry decided to change this to "strategic target strike." KMRP has also been renamed as "overwhelming response."
The decision came against the backdrop of the inter-Korean reconciliation under which Seoul and Pyongyang are taking a series of steps to ease military tension.
But the decision has also raised controversy that the phrase change is nothing more than a "play of words" to be in line with the President Moon Jae-in administration's policies on North Korea, even though the primary role of the ministry is to maintain military readiness despite the rare peace overture.
Starting last year, President Moon has held three summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In their last meeting in September, they agreed to take specific steps for border disarmament, in what they said was a move to foster peace and stability on the peninsula.
"We decided to change the names, in an effort to extend the scope of security readiness," a military official said. "The previous phrases have a lot to do with the North's possible military provocations, but the new ones are much broader in concept. The new phrases were adopted for us to maintain the readiness against possible threats from not just North Korea, but any potential threats."
In the mid-term report, the ministry allocated 270.7 trillion won ($242 billion) to improve the nation's defense capacity and troop management.
Of the budget, the ministry allotted 65.6 trillion won to realize what it calls strategic war deterrence by enhancing the military's anti-missile platforms and radar detection systems, the ministry said.
"To brace for any threats from weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the military will continue making efforts to secure overwhelming response capabilities," said the official.
The capabilities include the continuing improvement of the domestically developed Cheolmae-2 medium-range air defense missile and the reinforcement of military data communications capacity, the official explained.
The ministry also allocated 841 billion won for introducing military technology platforms in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They include the establishment of smart troop management systems and the introduction of a new lightweight combat uniform, called the "Warrior Platform," which consists of a bulletproof helmet and vest and combat fatigues made from improved fabrics.