S. Korea Military on High Alert after Kim Jong-Nam’s Death

Seoul, - South Korea's military is staying on high alert to counter any provocations by North Korea following the murder of the estranged half brother of the North's leader Kim Jong-un a week ago, the defense ministry said Monday.

"The North Korean military is conducting its regular winter drills and there is no unusual movement in the North. But because there can be a provocation at any time, we are fully prepared against all contingencies," Roh Jae-cheon, a spokesman for Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a press briefing.

As for the delay in acquiring a golf course site from Lotte Group for the deployment of an advanced US missile defense system, defense ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said in the same briefing that Lotte "will provide the site as planned" within the month.

Lotte deferred a final decision early this month due to growing pressure from Beijing on its business operations. It operates big businesses in China, a country which has opposed the planned deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, arguing that its powerful radar could spy on its military.

The government in October picked Lotte's golf club in Seongju, a rural county in the country's southeastern region, to station the THAAD battery within the year to intercept incoming missiles.

The conglomerate would in exchange receive a plot of land in Namyangju, just east of Seoul, currently belonging to the military.

Pyongyang has escalated its saber rattling by conducting two nuclear tests and testing 24 ballistic missiles in 2016 in pursuit of developing a weapons system capable of hitting the US mainland.

In its first direct challenge to the international community since US President Donald Trump came to power on Jan. 20, the reclusive regime test-fired a newly developed intermediate-range ballistic missile on Feb. 12. The latest rocket, launched at a high angle � flew about 500 kilometers east before falling into the East Sea, according to the ministry.

A day later, Kim Jong-nam was attacked at Kuala Lumpur airport and killed by poison.

The North Korean regime is widely believed to be behind the incident.

He had spoken out against his family's dynastic control of the North, which led to a "standing order" by Kim Jong-un for his elder half brother's assassination, according to local lawmakers, South Korea's News Agency (Yonhap) reported.

Source: Qatar News Agency