South Korean defense chief orders up plan to kill Kim Jong-un

Seoul’s special forces have been tasked with preparing to “swiftly eliminate” North Korea’s leaders if war breaks out

South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik has called for quickly killing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and other top officials in Pyongyang in the event that war breaks out on the peninsula again.

Shin issued his order on Wednesday, telling South Korea’s Army Special Warfare Command to make preparations for taking out North Korea’s leaders. “If Kim Jong-un starts a war, as a key unit of Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR), you must become the world’s strongest special operations unit to swiftly eliminate the enemy leadership,” he said during a visit to the commando unit southeast of Seoul, in Incheon.

KMPR is South Korea’s defense doctrine for delivering a debilitating retaliatory strike in response to a North Korean attack. It’s part of Seoul’s “three-axis” system for deterring a new war with Pyongyang, which also includes preemptively eliminating a North Korean missile launch and shooting down missiles in flight. Shin made his visit to the special forces command amid South Korea’s ongoing “Freedom Shield” military exercise with the US military.

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Kim has called such joint exercises a “rehearsal” for invasion of North Korea and a provocation of war. The two Koreas have technically been at war for over seven decades, after their 1950-1953 conflict ended with an armistice rather than a peace agreement.

In Seoul’s latest drills with US troops, special forces have worked on “infiltrating key command facilities and paralyzing their operations,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported. The South Korean Army Special Warfare Command said it’s preparing for “various provocations” from the North, including terrorist attacks. “We will move in, strongly suppress them, and punish them until the end.”

Shin, the defense chief, also visited a key wartime command bunker in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, on Wednesday. He said the joint exercise will hone operations to “neutralize the North Korean nuclear and missile network at an early stage and attack the enemy in all areas – including land, sea, air, space, cyber, and electromagnetic waves. We need to further strengthen our capabilities so that we can overwhelm them.”

READ MORE: North Korea condemns latest US-South Korea drills

Tensions on the peninsula have escalated in the past year amid a wave of North Korean missile tests and saber-rattling by Seoul and Washington. Shin threatened in December to unleash a “hell of destruction” on Pyongyang if North Korea takes “reckless actions that harm peace.” That vow came weeks after North Korea launched a spy satellite, leading to the unraveling of a 2018 deal designed to reduce military tensions around the peninsula’s demilitarized zone (DMZ).

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