South Korea is preparing to hit North Korea where it hurts, if the Hermit Kingdom strikes the first blow.
The new commander of South Korea’s Marine Corps took office on Thursday calling on his 30,000 troops to be ready to “mercilessly retaliate” against North Korea’s provocations.
In a change-of-commander ceremony, Lt. Gen. Jun Jin-goo pointed out that the elite forces have played a key role in the front-line defense of the country.
“The Marine Corps has protected places most difficult to defend but should be done so at all costs” from Baengnyeong Island near the western sea border with North Korea to Pohang, Ullleung Island and Jeju Island, he said in his speech at the event held the headquarters of the Marine Corps in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province.
He urged his unit to maintain full readiness on the basis of combat-oriented spirit to “mercilessly retaliate” against an enemy’s provocation.
Dignitaries who attended the ceremony included some lawmakers, provincial government officials, former Marine Corps leaders and Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson who commands the III Marine Expeditionary Force of the United States.
Having served as the head of the Marine Corps’ 2nd Division, Jun is known for leading a successful crackdown on Chinese ships illegally fishing in the West Sea.
The Korean Times reports, Lt. Gen. Jun Jin-goo is one of South Korea’s finest military men:
Maj. Gen. Jun Jin-goo, currently deputy commander of the Corps, will be promoted to lieutenant general and assume command later this week, as his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Lee Sang-hoon will end his two-year tenure and retire from military service, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
A change of command ceremony will take place Thursday as no confirmation hearing is required.
“Jun has gained expertise and capabilities in combined and joint operations,” the ministry said in a release. “He also has enjoyed strong respect in senior-junior relations.”
The Ministry noted that acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn pushed for making such an appointment, considering that a vacuum in the position would pose a serious national security concern. The government, which usually carries out the reshuffling of top military officers in April, will delay other appointments until after the May 9 presidential election, the ministry added.