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South Korea president warns Pyongyang will meddle in April election with drone attacks

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SEOUL—South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Wednesday the North’s “irrational” regime was likely to carry out multiple provocations, including cyberattacks and drone intrusions, ahead of the South’s April election.

In recent weeks, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared Seoul his country’s “principal enemy”, jettisoned agencies dedicated to reunification and outreach, and threatened war over “even 0.001 mm” of territorial infringement.

Kim has also ramped up weapons testing, including this week’s launch of a flurry of cruise missiles, which analysts said the North could be supplying to Russia for use in Ukraine.

South Korea is gearing up for a crucial election on April 10, with hawkish Yoon—who came to office in 2022 vowing to get tough on Pyongyang—and his party aiming to regain a parliamentary majority for the first time since 2016.

“The North Korean regime is the only irrational group in the world that has legislated the preemptive use of nuclear weapons,” Yoon said during an annual defense council meeting, which was attended by members of the public, representatives of the country’s police and spy agencies, and other officials.

Yoon said that “multiple” provocations by the North were expected ahead of the April general elections.

“This year, we are expecting multiple provocations for election intervention such as border provocations, drone intrusions, fake news, cyberattacks and rear disturbances,” he said.

“Cyberattacks can paralyse national functions and people’s daily lives in an instant. Also, society can fall into great confusion due to fake news and false propaganda,” he added.

According to Seoul, Tokyo and Washington, Pyongyang has supported its banned weapons programmes in part by gathering information through “malicious cyber activities.”

North Korea has a long track record of provocations ahead of South Korean elections, experts say — part of its broader strategy to cause disruption south of the border.

In December, Seoul’s spy agency issued a statement forecasting that Pyongyang would carry out military and cyber provocations in 2024, targeting election campaigns in the United States and South Korea. AFP

North Korean leader Kim late last year instructed his aides to “come up with measures to cause a big stir in South Korea early next year”, the agency said.


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