‘Israel was a big lesson’: Gaza war prompts Seoul to prep against North Korea

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South Korean military, police and emergency personnel joined rare defence drills in Seoul as fears rise that the city is in striking distance of North Korea’s weapons and covert attack. The exercise comes amid heightened tension after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile and launched its first military spy satellite.

South Korean soldiers take part in an anti-terror drill against North Korea's possible provocations in Seoul, South Korea.(Reuters)
South Korean soldiers take part in an anti-terror drill against North Korea’s possible provocations in Seoul, South Korea.(Reuters)

North Korea also introduced a constitutional revision in September which enshrined use of nuclear weapons as a national defence policy.

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Oh Se-hoon, Seoul’s mayor said as per news agency Reuters, “There was a big lesson for us when Israel’s world-class advanced defence system helplessly buckled under a surprise attack by Hamas armed with conventional artillery and primitive means.”

Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7 which killed more than 1,200 people at the time, mostly civilians showed that superior military capabilities did not mean much if the enemy mounted a successful surprise attack, he said.

What happened in the drills in Seoul?

The drills simulated attacks on a major water supply facility, telephone network stations, an underground communications and power cable corridor. The drills came after South Korea imposed new sanctions on eight North Koreans linked to nuclear and missile programmes.

Why is Seoul at risk?

Seoul is just 38 km (24 miles) from the military border with North Korea which makes it particularly susceptible to an attack at any time, the city’s mayor said. The city is also the centre of government, business and finance and is home to 9.4 million people. An additional 1.4 million work and go to school in Seoul each day. The mayor also pushed for a more hardline position against North Korea, arguing that the South must possess its own nuclear weapons. This has been ruled out by South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol who has instead focussed on bolstering a military alliance with the United States and restoring security ties with Japan.

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