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(3rd LD) Park calls N.K. decision-making system 'irrational'

All Headlines 19:06 August 24, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS photo, more details in paras 11-12)
By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday called North Korea's autocratic decision-making system "irrational" and its leader Kim Jong-un "hard-to-predict," stressing that security threats from the communist state are becoming increasingly real.

During her visit to a front-line Army unit, the commander-in-chief also reiterated that Pyongyang could undertake various types of provocations to fend off possible unrest in the North that could flare up due to the North's deepening international isolation and economic hardships.

"Considering the North's irrational decision-making system under the one-man dictatorship, and the hard-to-predict character of (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un, it is fair to say that the risks of the (military) threats becoming real are very high," Park said.

Earlier in the day, Pyongyang test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile off its east coast, sharply raising cross-border tensions.

In response to the North's continued provocations, as well as its menacing statements against Seoul, Park has recently hardened her rhetoric against Pyongyang.

During a meeting with border troops and commanders, Park ordered them to "sternly and strongly retaliate without any hesitation" if provoked.

The troops were participating in the ongoing annual military drills jointly conducted by South Korea and the U.S.

"As I have always stressed, I trust the judgment and measures taken by field commanders," she said.

"I appreciate your hard work and hope that your unit becomes one that will definitely win in any fight."

The allies' Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, which Pyongyang criticizes as a rehearsal for an invasion, began its two-week run on Monday. In an apparent protest against it, the North conducted another test of an SLBM on Wednesday morning.

At the border unit, Park also received a briefing on the field operations of key military assets, including K-9 self-propelled howitzers, multiple launch rocket systems and unmanned aerial vehicles.

During the briefing, she pointed out, "The North's threats are no longer hypothetical."

It was Park's first visit to a military unit since December last year when she traveled to a unit of the Army's 28th division in Yeoncheon, some 62 kilometers north of Seoul.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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