SEOUL: South Korea's military chief urged the navy Monday to hit back hard against any new North Korean attack, as Seoul strengthens security before a major forum.
General Jung Seung-Jo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called on sailors to stay alert, saying the North's navy would increase activities as its frozen ports begin to thaw.
"The North can provoke us at any moment… you should seize the opportunity to launch immediate and strong retaliation with all available weapons," he said during a visit to a naval base at the western port of Pyeongtaek.
"If the enemy provokes us, we will help you launch quick and precise retaliation with combined forces, so that the enemy will regret it bitterly," he said.
Jung watched a 3,200-tonne destroyer handle a mock attack by the North's Styx missiles and discussed with navy commanders its recent military movements.
He urged the navy to stay alert before the March 26-27 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul involving dozens of world leaders. US President Barack Obama is among those expected to attend.
The North has blasted the event as an "unsavoury burlesque" intended to justify an atomic attack by South Korea and its ally the United States.
Pyongyang has intensified hostile rhetoric against Seoul since new leader Kim Jong-Un took over from his father Kim Jong-Il, who died last December. (AFP)