(ATTN: UPDATES with Yoon's remarks; CHANGES headline)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol said Wednesday that South Korea must "perfectly overwhelm" North Korea in conventional military strength even though the North may be armed with nuclear weapons, his office said.
Yoon made the remark while meeting with 18 new lieutenants general at the presidential office following a ceremony marking their promotions.
"President Yoon Suk-yeol said our national security is in a graver situation than ever, and that without thorough security and confidence in it, there can be no livelihood or economy," deputy presidential spokesperson Lee Jae-myoung said during a press briefing.
Yoon stressed the need to remove security risks in order for South Korea to grow and take a step further, saying, "North Korea has nuclear weapons, but in conventional military strength, we must perfectly overwhelm the North," according to Lee.
The president also urged the newly promoted military officials to "trust in the overwhelming nuclear power of our ally nation and have confidence that we can respond to any situation," the spokesperson said.
The 18 new lieutenants general included new Marine Corps Commandant Kim Gye-hwan.
During the ceremony, Yoon conferred ribbons marked with their names, positions, ranks and the president's name.
Yoon tied the ribbons to their "samjeonggeom" swords, which they received upon being promoted to brigadiers general and which signify national defense, unification and prosperity.
"President Yoon personally encouraged those who will now carry out the vital duty of leading our military and urged them to maintain a seamless defense readiness posture," his office said.
"He also said our security faces a grave situation due to North Korea's unprecedented nuclear threats and missile provocations, and ordered a firm response in the event North Korea carries out a provocation through practical training," it added.
Yoon also expressed his gratitude for the sacrifices and dedication of the nation's troops and expressed his infinite confidence in the armed forces.
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