South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup speaks during a visit to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Nov. 15, 2022.

South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup speaks during a visit to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Nov. 15, 2022. (South Korean Ministry of National Defense)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — A secure peace with North Korea will require mutual assurances and actions that go beyond just words, South Korea’s defense minister said Wednesday.

A “peace relying on the other party’s good will can’t last,” Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said at a news conference in Seoul after meeting earlier in the day with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

“Such a peace relying on the other party is a peace that can’t last and is a fake peace,” Lee said.

Lee spoke at the Seoul Government Complex shortly after the Ministry of National Defense submitted its annual policy report to the presidential office. The plans lay the groundwork for the South Korean military’s mission for the year and signals the presidential administration’s foreign policy goals.

Lee said Yoon ordered more cooperation with the United States military and strengthened military readiness to deter threats from North Korea.

“The president emphasized that we need to be prepared to exercise the right of self-defense at any time in the event of an adversary’s threat against the freedom and peace of [South Korea],” Lee said.

The South Korean military plans around 20 large-scale drills with the U.S. by June, according to the policy report. Some may be longer in duration and will include more troops than in previous years. The plans also include a tabletop exercise in which the two militaries respond to the use of a nuclear weapon by North Korea.

U.S. Forces Korea, responsible for roughly 28,500 troops, conducted several large-scale drills with South Korean forces last year. In the fall, they held Vigilant Storm, a five-day air power exercise that included roughly 240 aircraft.

Yoon restarted much of the joint military drills like Vigilant Storm that were suspended during former South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration. In an interview with The Associated Press published Wednesday, Yoon said North Korean provocations will strengthen the South’s resolve.

“The discussions are under way over the so-called joint planning and joint execution, and I think it’s right for South Korea and the United States to cooperate because both of us are exposed to the North Korean nuclear threat,” he told AP.

North Korea fired missiles at a record pace last year, launching more than 70 missiles in 36 days of testing. The communist regime last fired a short-range missile on Jan. 1.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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