Song Sang-ho, The Korea Herald/Asia News Network, Jan 31
South Korea launched its submarine force command on Sunday to better cope with evolving maritime security challenges including those from North Korea, and potentially from outside the peninsula.
Incorporating its functions of underwater operations, training and education, and maintenance into the new command, the Navy seeks to conduct more integrated, efficient and stable submarine operations, Navy officials explained.
With the launch, the South has become the world's sixth country to have a submarine command. Traditional maritime powers such as the US, Japan, France, Britain and India have run their submarine commands.
"The launch of the submarine force command is a clear display of our will to perfectly defend our East, West and South Seas through the enhanced quality and quantity of our submarine capabilities," the Navy said in a press release.
According to South Korea's 2014 defence white paper, North Korea has some 70 submarines including midget submarines, but many of them are old and small-scale.
The US has 72 including 58 strategic nuclear-powered submarines, while China has 70 including four nuclear submarines. Japan has 18 submarines, while Russia has 64 including 11 nuclear-powered ones.