South Korea is considering deleting its reference to North Korea's military as "our enemy" in its defense white paper to be published later this year, multiple government sources in Seoul said Wednesday.
The move is in line with the April inter-Korean summit agreement to halt "all hostile acts" against each other, seek to alleviate tensions and "practically eliminate the danger of war."
"It would be contradictory if we hold consultations (with the North) over measures to halt hostile acts, which are mentioned in the Panmunjom Declaration, while leaving the description of the North Korean military as an enemy in our government's official paper," a government source told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity.
"We have been striving to come up with a way to use a phrase or word that would sufficiently reflect the North's military threat instead of using the 'enemy' expression," he added.
The 2016 defense white paper states, "The North's weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons and missiles, cyberattacks and terrorism threats pose a big threat to our security. ... As long as these threats continue, the North Korean regime and its military are our enemies."
Some observers said that Seoul is weighing the removal of the adversarial term, as the North Korean threats appear to have been reduced, with the reclusive regime halting its nuclear and missile tests and seeking sanctions relief to shore up its threadbare economy.
The North Korean military was first referred to as the "main enemy" in Seoul's defense policy paper in 1995 after a Pyongyang official threatened to turn Seoul into a "sea of flames." In the 2004 version, the expression was supplanted by a "direct military threat" amid a conciliatory mood.
The enemy description was revived in 2010, when the North torpedoed the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March of that year, killing 46 sailors, and launched an artillery attack on the border island of Yeonpyong, killing two soldiers and two civilians. (yonhap)