Seoul, Dec 27: South Korean President Lee Myung Bak urged national unity as he called for a tough stance against future provocations from North Korea.
Lee called his country’s neighbour “the most belligerent regime on earth” and said his countrymen must stand firm against it during his final radio address of 2010, the year in which South Korea blamed its neighbour for the sinking of one of its warships and the artillery bombardment of one of its islands, which together caused the deaths of 50 people.
“Fear of war is never helpful in preventing war,” he said.
The president also warned a month after the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong island in the Yellow Sea that North Korea would try to divide South Korean citizens with its provocations.
“For this reason, we need to achieve national unity before taking strong military countermeasures,” the conservative politician said.
Lee’s government and the military were accused of reacting too slowly and laxly to the Nov 23 attack on the island near the two Koreas’ disputed maritime border.
Relations between the two countries have been strained since Lee was sworn into office in 2008 and took a harder line toward Pyongyang than his liberal predecessors.
Ties dived further in the wake of the March sinking of the South Korean corvette, also near the sea border, killing 46 sailors. The two government have further ratcheted up their threats and counter-warnings since the island attack.
Last week, Kim Young Chun, minister of the North Korean People’s Armed Forces, threatened the South with a “sacred war” with nuclear weapons. –(DPA)