A news report on the missile launch of North Korea being aired on the South Korea. | Photo from PNA/Yonhap)

The Philippines, albeit far from the Korean Peninsula where Pyongyang had been carrying out missile tests at an unprecedented rate this year, must respond “firmly” to the provocations.

Korea’s Ministry of Unification on Thursday said Manila and the rest of the international community must support Seoul and urge North Korea towards denuclearization and to return to dialogue as soon as possible.

“We ask that the Philippines, together with the international community, support the ROK (Republic of Korea) government’s efforts to induce North Korea to stop such military provocations,” the ministry told the Philippine News Agency.

“To resolve the issue, the Philippines and the international community must respond firmly to North Korea’s provocations and make efforts to bring North Korea back to the dialogue on denuclearization,” it added.

The South Korean ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations and unification matters, said Pyongyang’s continuous weapons tests pose a threat to peace and stability not only in the Peninsula but also in Asia and the rest of the world.

It hoped that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), specifically the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) could play a “more constructive role” on the issue.

The ARF is a security dialogue platform composed of the 10 Asean member states and 17 others, including South Korea, North Korea, China, and Russia.

North Korea fired one presumed intercontinental ballistic missile and two short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea on Thursday, according to Yonhap.

This followed a launch of as many as 23 missiles on Nov. 2, one of which landed near South Korean waters for the first time since the Korean War, prompting Seoul to respond with warplanes firing air-to-ground missiles into the sea across the Northern Limit Line (NLL)– the de facto maritime border between the two.

Pyongyang in recent statements said the tests are in response to military drills between South Korea and the United States.

The Unification ministry said the South remains open to dialogue but the North has yet to respond to its proposals.

“[The] Yoon Suk Yeol administration has announced the ‘Audacious Initiative’ for a denuclearized, peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula and urged North Korea to respond to our proposal. We will patiently and consistently pursue a strategy to induce North Korea to return to denuclearization negotiations, with the door open for dialogue,” it said.

In an exclusive interview with PNA, Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Maria Theresa De Vega said Manila stands firm with its position on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“We’ve always held fast to that position. It’s a position that we continue to articulate within Asean and within the international community in the United Nations,” she said.

“We have issued from time to time national statements condemning any attempts for further destabilization through testing here in the Korean Peninsula because it is an issue which affects not just the Korean Peninsula, but the larger region as a whole and of course, the world as a whole. So we continue to do that. We continue to articulate that,” she added. (PNA)

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