South Korea’s Yoon warns North Korea may try to disrupt April poll

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South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. — REUTERS

SEOUL — South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol warned on Wednesday that North Korea could stage provocations such as armed actions near the shared border, drone intrusions, cyber attacks or spreading fake news in a bid to interfere in an election in April.

Yoon made the remarks as he convened an annual meeting of the central integrate defense council that brings together the military, government and civil defense entities.

In recent weeks, Pyongyang has ramped up tensions on the Korean peninsula with missile tests and verbal threats against Seoul and Washington, while scrapping its decades-long goal of a peaceful reunification and redefining the South as a separate, enemy state.

Yoon warned that North Korea could stage “numerous provocations” to intervene in the upcoming election and called for a tighter security posture.

South Korea is set to elect new members of parliament on April 10, with 300 seats up for grab.

“The North Korean regime is going through fire and water solely for the sake of maintaining its hereditary totalitarian regime, while blatantly ignoring international law and UN Security Council resolutions by trading arms with Russia,” Yoon told the meeting.

Russia and North Korea have overseen a series of high-level exchanges since last year amid growing criticism of Pyongyang’s role in the Ukraine war by allegedly shipping artillery and missiles to Russia.

Both North Korea and Russia deny the accusation and also the charge that Pyongyang has been receiving advanced technology for developing strategic military capability from Moscow in return.

Yoon called for greater cooperation between his country’s military, government, police, and private actors, as well as additional measures to prevent possible cyber attacks on national infrastructure, and attempts to disseminate false propaganda.

“Cyber attacks can paralyze national functions and people’s daily lives in an instant. Fake news and false propaganda may also cause great chaos in society,” he said.

Seoul’s defense council meeting this year was specifically designed to examine practical ways of responding under various scenarios to North Korean provocations, including long-range artillery and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks, Yoon’s office said. — Reuters