North Korea Emphasizes Naval Strength with Sequential Missile Launches
North Korea has been increasing its provocations, including the launch of a Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) three times in the past week, starting with military demonstrations in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and maritime buffer zones since the beginning of the year.
President Yoon Suk-yeol expressed concern on the 31st, presiding over the 57th Central Integrated Defense Meeting at the reception of Blue House, saying, “The North Korean regime has been relentlessly striving to collapse the free democratic system of South Korea for the past 70 years and has always carried out social disruption, psychological warfare, and provocations in years with important political schedules.” He added, “This year, they will carry out various provocations for election interference, such as border provocations, drone infiltrations, fake news, cyber attacks, and rear disruptions.”
In relation to this, the National Intelligence Service also warned on the 24th at a roundtable discussion on “Cyber Threat Trends and NIS Response Activities” at the National Cyber Security Cooperation Center in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, saying, “Kim Jong-un is leading the hacking targets” and “We should also pay attention to the possibility of rampant North Korean fake news online ahead of the April parliamentary elections in South Korea.”
North Korea’s election interference and psychological warfare are not just recent events. Attempts to influence South Korean elections, such as the anti-South propaganda war in 2012, GPS disruptions in 2016, and a series of ballistic missile launches in 2020, have been consistently made by North Korea.
North Korea’s emphasis on military achievements by continually launching a new strategic cruise missile, which they claim can be equipped with tactical nuclear weapons, and waging military demonstrations in the maritime buffer zone since the beginning of the year is interpreted as a strategy to enhance its nuclear capabilities to the maximum ahead of the November U.S. elections, gain an upper hand in possible U.S.-North Korea negotiations, and strengthen internal unity in North Korea by provoking a war.
In particular, it seems to be intended to exacerbate internal divisions in South Korea through domestic conflicts and make it difficult for the government to make major policy decisions. This is why there are predictions that North Korea will increase its provocations and intensify nuclear threats with various weapons systems as the elections approach.
Ok Kyung-seop, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said, “Due to international sanctions against North Korea, the people are suffering from livelihood difficulties, so they need a justification for internal unity,” and “They are using a strategy to gain advantages by interfering in the elections of South Korea and the United States by riding on the new Cold War structure of ‘South Korea-the U.S.-Japan vs North Korea-China-Russia.'”
By. Eugene Park