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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a marine facility in this undated photo from the Korean Central News Agency.
Politics

South Korea forming special unit to take out North's Kim

Strike force to be created soon amid rising military tensions

SEOUL -- The South Korean government said Wednesday it will organize a special operations unit tasked with removing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the event of hostilities between the countries.

Because Pyongyang is stepping up its nuclear and ballistic missile development more rapidly than expected, the South Korean military unit will be created early this year. The strike force would infiltrate the North and incapacitate the country's leadership.

Analysts predict North Korea will engage in another round of military provocations in the first half of 2017. During a joint policy briefing Wednesday, South Korean defense, foreign affairs and other ministry officials stressed the need to swiftly coordinate with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's incoming administration to hold a tougher line against the North.

Seoul is also sticking with bilateral agreements with Japan facilitating the exchange of military intelligence and closing the book on the issue of wartime "comfort women." The officials regard those two accords as principal achievements of impeached President Park Geun-hye's tenure, despite the withering criticism from opposition parties.

At the same time, those ministry figures said they will deal with Japan firmly on historical issues. This is believed to refer to the dispute over South Korea-controlled islets known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, as well as visits by Japanese officials to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine commemorating Japan's war dead.

With regard to South Korea's deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense shield against the North Korean threat, which has been opposed by China, Seoul has indicated it will formulate countermeasures to minimize any fallout stemming from Beijing.

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