South Korea Stops Referring to North Korea as ‘Enemy’ in Defense Reports

Change in terminology reflects easing tensions

After a year of fruitful diplomatic engagement, South Korea made a noteworthy change in their biennial defense report, which no longer refers to North Korea as an “enemy” of any kind.

South Korean reports have long made a point to call the north an enemy, and since 1995 it was always “the main enemy.” Starting with engagement at last year’s Winter Olympics, however, times have changed.

Successful summits and a series of lower-level meetings have greatly reduced tensions along the demilitarized zone, and both Koreas are looking to further improve on the process, with an eye toward a peace deal ending the generations-long war.

Though not calling them an enemy may seem like a small change, the South Koreans have long made a point of this being a key gauge of their sentiment toward North Korea. For now, at least, things look promising.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.