On Wednesday, more than 1,000 military, police, and emergency workers in Seoul holds drills to guard against surprise attack by NorthKorea. This was done to calm worries that the city was close to Pyongyang's weapons and could be attacked in secret.
Tensions were high because the North tried an intercontinental ballistic missile and launched its first military spy satellite. Last month, the neighbors brought back some military measures that were lowered after a 2018 agreement.
Military and police drill in Seoul
Officials say to Reuters that on Wednesday, the city government of Seoul held defense drills with the military and police to get ready for possible North Korean provocations in the area and other situations.
The drills this year included field training exercises for the first time, in addition to the normal command post exercises that were done on a computer. It is not common for a city government to plan its defense exercises like this.
Officials said the drills were held to see how ready people are for security emergencies like drone infiltrations, as North Korea's nuclear and rocket threats grow, and to come up with ways to make up for any gaps.
There were training drills in the field that were based on real-life situations, like terrorist attacks on big installations. Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who was in charge of the drills, said that safety is the most important thing for the public good and promised to keep working to make the system where all city institutions work together better to keep people safe.
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.- Oh Se-hoon
He said that the terrorist group's attack across the border on Oct. 7 through towns in Israel, which killed more than 1,200 people, showed that having better weapons didn't matter much if the enemy could pull off a surprise attack.
During the drills on Wednesday, attacks were simulated on a major water supply plant, telephone network stations, and an underground cable corridor for power and communications.
Seoul's distance of just 38 km (24 miles) from the military border with the North makes it particularly susceptible to an attack at any time.- Oh Se-hoon
There are 9.4 million people living in the center of government, business, and banking, and an extra 1.4 million work and go to school there every day.
Oh has taken a strong stance against North Korea, saying that the only way for the South to stop the threat from Pyongyang is for it to have its nuclear weapons.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, on the other hand, has said that his country will not have nuclear weapons. Instead, he wants to strengthen its military relationship with the US and restore security ties with Japan.
It was the same day that the drills that South Korea put new sanctions on eight North Koreans who were linked to nuclear and missile programs. They have fought at sea, and the North bombed one of the South's islands, killing many people on both sides. But since the end of the Korean War in 1953, there has been no direct attack on Seoul.
The North successfully launched its first military spy satellite in November, and this month it tested its newest ballistic missile. In September, the constitution was changed to make the use of nuclear weapons a national defense policy.
The recent defense drills in Seoul reflect the heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. With North Korea's recent actions, including missile launches and the deployment of a military spy satellite, concerns about potential threats have increased. The city's proactive approach to readiness, including field training exercises, underscores the seriousness of the situation.
The need for preparedness and collaboration among city institutions is emphasized, especially given Seoul's proximity to the military border and the potential for surprise attacks. The differing stances on nuclear weapons within South Korea's leadership add a layer of complexity to the region's security dynamics.