Seoul Ignored N.Korean Drone Threat

North Korea threatened several times since last year to target Cheong Wa Dae using unmanned aerial vehicles. Each time it mentioned the drones, the North clearly specified their use as "strike" platforms rather than reconnaissance purposes.

The recent discovery of three crashed drones here suggests that the military here ignored clear warning signs and was far too late in preparing any response.

On May 21 last year, the North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri said using UAVs instead of surface-to-surface missiles to attack South Korea was intended to use "terrain features for cover." It added that long-range artillery or ballistic missiles could not hit Cheong Wa Dae, which is at the southern foot of Mt. Bukak, but "the situation changes when using UAVs."

Drones can travel through valleys and strike targets hidden in mountainsides.

Uriminzokkiri pointed out that the South Korean presidential office is just 40 km from the heavily armed border and that a UAV could reach it in less than three minutes traveling at 925 km/h. It also said that it would not be difficult to obtain the coordinates of President Park Geun-hye's office in the compound.

The website boasted that North Korean drones are also capable of attacking the Capital Defense Command on the southern side of Mt. Kwanak in southern Seoul.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally led training drills using UAVs. The [North] Korean Central News Agency on March 20 last year said Kim personally directed such an exercise and quoted him as saying that the North Korean army is able to launch "precision strikes against any enemy target."

Kim watched an interceptor hit a mock Tomahawk cruise missile and expressed satisfaction that the target was "accurately hit with a single shot," KCNA claimed.

He ordered troops to "destroy" all military and government targets in South Korea, as well as U.S. facilities should the "enemies even flinch."

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 08, 2014 12:23 KST