Koreas-psychological warfare

SEOUL, March 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will face psychological warfare by South Korea if the communist country continues with provocations, President Park Geun-hye's defense minister nominee said Thursday.

In written answers presented to the National Assembly ahead of his confirmation hearing, Kim Byung-kwan, a retired four-star general, said the South Korean military will "sternly punish the North by employing all means available," including psychological warfare.

Kim will undergo a parliamentary confirmation hearing for Park's defense minister on Friday, though there has been mounting public and media pressure for him to resign over alleged ethical lapses.

"I think launching psychological warfare is a very effective way as it undermines the North's regime the most," said Kim.

South Korea has employed psywar tactics before like lighting a tower near the tense border with the North in bright Christmas lights and sending propaganda leaflets into the belligerent country.

Pointing to Pyongyang's recent ramping up of bellicose rhetoric and strengthening military posture, Kim said "chances are high for the North to provoke with both military and non-military actions such as additional nuclear tests and missile launches."

On Thursday, North Korea warned of a thermonuclear war in retaliation against the United Nations' push for passing tougher sanctions against the regime. The Security Council plans to vote on a set of new sanctions on Friday (Seoul Time) to punish the North for its third atomic weapons test last month.

Reiterating Seoul's commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Kim expressed opposition to the idea of redeploying tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.

"We should be able to fully use the expanded deterrence provided by the U.S. while being without its tactical nuclear weapons here. And as far as I know, South Korea is preparing for that now," said Kim.

In the wake of the North's provocations such as its nuclear test last month and the missile launch last December, some lawmakers here, including Rep. Chung Mong-joon of the ruling Saenuri Party, are calling for the reintroduction of tactical nuclear weapons from the U.S.

Concerning the recovery of wartime operational command from Washington scheduled for December 2015, the nominee dismissed recent speculations of putting it off, and vowed to push it through as planned.

"We need a structure of the (ROK-U.S.) combined forces in any form. We need to develop the current version into a system that could effectively handle the nuclear threat from the North," he said.

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