SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea will swiftly and strongly respond with force until North Korea surrenders if the communist state launches another assault, the Souths new defence minister said Saturday. Kim Kwan-Jin issued the warning during his inauguration speech after President Lee Myung-Bak officially appointed the retired four-star general as the new defence chief following a parliamentary confirmation hearing Friday. Kim Kwan-Jin replaced Kim Tae-Young, who came under fire over the militarys allegedly feeble response to North Koreas deadly shelling of South Koreas Yeonpyeong Island near the tense Yellow Sea border on November 23. If North Korea launches another military attack on our territory and people, we must swiftly and strongly respond with force and punish them thoroughly until they surrender, the new defence minister said. We do not want war, but we must never be afraid of it, he said, adding South Korea faces the worst crisis since the Korean War, which ended in an armistice in 1953. The sinking of a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea in March and the shelling on Yeonpyeong left indelible wounds on the Souths military pride and honor and had deeply disappointed its people, Kim Kwan-Jin said. The North triggered the latest crisis on November 23 when it shelled the frontline island, killing two marines and two civilians, in what it said was a retaliatory attack for a South Korean live-fire drill. In the South the first shelling of its civilian areas since the 1950-53 Korean war has caused far greater outrage than the sinking of a warship in March that killed 46 sailors, for which Seoul also blames the North. Our enemies will keep trying to attack our weak spots and plot new forms of provocation. We must make them realise how steep a price they would have to pay for their provocations. On Friday, the new defence minister said South Korea would hit back with air strikes at the North and punish the attacker thoroughly should the regime attack the South again. He was scheduled to visit Yeonpyeong island later Saturday, his first trip there as the defence minister, a defence ministry spokesman said.