ROK president says defense budget hike for DPRK provocations
Updated: 2015-10-28 09:37
SEOUL - Republic of Korea (ROK's) President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that the country will increase next year's defense budget to strengthen defense capability against future provocations from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
ROK increased next year's defense budget by 4 percent to 39 trillion won ($35 billion), higher than a 3-percent rise in overall budget in 2016.
"(ROK) will strengthen defense capability, with a focus on the anti-North deterrence, to effectively respond to possible provocations from DPRK and other security destabilizing factors surrounding the Korean peninsula," Park said during her third annual budget address at the National Assembly headquarters.
Citing the escalation in August of cross-border military tensions, Park said that the door can be opened to normal dialogue and cooperation with Pyongyang only when Seoul "maintains a watertight defense posture" based on a firm principle.
The landmine explosion in frontline areas, which maimed two ROK's soldiers, and the rare exchange of fire across the border had pushed the two Koreas in August to the brink of armed conflict.
The ROK's leader also pledged all-out efforts to work with the DPRK to regularly hold family reunions for those separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
After top-level military dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang in late August to defuse cross-border tensions, an agreement was reached to hold the Oct. 20-26 family reunion in the DPRK's Mount Kumgang resort.
President Park said the reunion event, which wrapped up on Monday, was "a small progress" to achieve peaceful reunification on the peninsula and cure the pains of divided families.
The ROK's government will make "all possible efforts" to regularly hold the humanitarian event and check whether their relatives on the other side of the border are still alive, Park noted.