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(LEAD) Moon orders watertight security at naval bases

Defense 17:32 April 10, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with Moon's message at appointment ceremony; CHANGES headline, photo)

SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Friday ordered South Korea's new navy chief to focus on beefing up combat readiness and to step up efforts to raise public awareness on the importance of the Jeju naval base.

Moon was meeting with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Boo Suk-jong at Cheong Wa Dae.

The president emphasized the need to bolster the Navy's combat power and to play a role in garnering support from Jeju residents for the major naval base on the southern resort island, according to Cheong Wa Dae's deputy spokesman Yoon Jae-kwan.

President Moon Jae-in (R) shakes hands with the new chief of naval operations, Adm. Boo Suk-jong, at Cheong Wa Dae on April 10, 2020. (Yonhap)

Moon noted that the admiral hails from Jeju himself and served as head of the Navy's task force on construction of the base.

He told Boo to "explain well" the significance of the base for the goal of achieving a blue-water navy.

The president also called for watertight security at naval facilities, citing security breaches reported at naval bases in recent months.

In March, two civic activists cut barbed-wire fences and trespassed on a naval compound on the southern island of Jeju. The Navy also belatedly disclosed another case that happened earlier this year in which a man with a mental illness entered the Jinhae Naval Command in the southeastern city of Changwon without being stopped.

During his inauguration speech earlier in the day, the admiral called for strict discipline and readiness posture among service members.

"For the Navy to be supported by the public and receive trust, we need to ensure strict military discipline and mental readiness posture," Boo said, according to a transcript released by his office.

Boo also vowed efforts to strengthen the Navy's capabilities based on science and technology.

He was commissioned as an ensign in 1986 and has served in key naval roles, including commanding the 2nd Fleet and heading the Naval Academy. Prior to his appointment as the Navy chief, he was the head of the military support directorate at the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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