The government will not evacuate Taiwanese nationals from South Korea for the time being because the situation in Seoul remains peaceful, despite North Korea’s saber-rattling, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Shih (石定) said yesterday.
“Our latest intelligence shows that residents in Seoul are going about their business as usual, and no country has started evacuating its nationals from South Korea so far,” Shih said in in response to media queries after a legislative meeting.
Amid North Korea’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric, Shih said the ministry activated an emergency response mechanism on Friday last week.
“The ministry and our representative office in South Korea have put various contingency plans in place and are in close contact with South Korean authorities,” Shih said.
Describing Pyongyang’s recent barrage of threats as “deja vu,” Shih said the ministry would take appropriate measures based on developments on the Korean Peninsula in a timely manner.
Shih said there are 16,000 Taiwanese in South Korea, including 60 businesspeople and their families.
The ministry has issued a “gray” travel alert for South Korea, a reminder for travelers to take precautions to ensure their safety while visiting.
Under the ministry’s four-color-coded travel advisory system, gray is the lowest level alert.
Separately yesterday, Chief of the General Staff Yen Ming (嚴明) said a possible missile test launch by the North would not greatly affect Taiwan, given its distance from the Korean Peninsula.
Yen said the military has a clear grasp of the situation on the peninsula and has calculated that Taiwan would be “very safe,” except if North Korea were to fire missiles randomly.
“[The Korean situation] will probably not have much impact on Taiwan because it is very far away,” he said on the sidelines of a visit to Penghu for a preview of this year’s annual military exercises, set to run from Monday through Friday next week.
Yen said that Taiwan’s long-range early-warning Surveillance Radar Program and anti-missile defense system are ready and will respond to any contingencies as necessary.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday also assured the public that the government is fully prepared to handle any consequences of the tensions.
“It is expected that the tensions on the Korean Peninsula will not turn into a war, but we should still be alert,” he said.
Ma reiterated the nation’s concerns about stability and peace in East Asia, and urged North Korea to exercise self-restraint and resolve disputes through peaceful means.
“We oppose any nation adopting measures that damage regional peace and stability. North Korea must stop its provocation immediately,” he said.