A group of 30 former North Korean soldiers who defected to South Korea have staged a protest against Seoul's plan to revise its military alliance with the United States. The defectors said President Roh Moo-Hyun was underestimating Pyongyang's military threat in his drive to regain wartime control over his country's military.
Seoul is in talks with the United States to regain wartime operational control over South Korean troops by 2012, a major change in their alliance which dates back to the 1950-1953 Korean War.
The protesters warned against North Korea's military, which they said possessed the nuclear and chemical warfare capability to annihilate South Koreans.
"What the North Korean forces most fear is the 'South Korea-US combined forces command' troops, especially the US firepower. As long as the US forces exist, Kim Jong-Il cannot even dream of a provocation," it said.
Some 29,500 US soldiers are now deployed to help 650,000 South Korean troops face up to the North's 1.2 million-strong army.