HomeLatestSouth Korea's Dilemma: Is North Korea the Only Threat

South Korea’s Dilemma: Is North Korea the Only Threat

washington – Seoul needs to be able to take care of threats past North Korea as Beijing’s belligerence towards Taiwan and Pyongyang’s threats to South Korea continue to grow, analysts mentioned.

South Korea’s army readiness has lengthy been directed to the north, as was displayed in a parade of its trendy army {hardware} via Seoul on Tuesday to mark the seventy fifth Armed Forces Day commemorating the founding of the nation’s armed forces.

The route marched via the primary industrial and enterprise district and ended on the Gwanghwamun space, which is the gate into the center of Seoul. North Korea conducts army parades a number of instances a yr, but it surely was Seoul’s first since 2013.

Speaking at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam earlier than the parade, President Yoon Suk Yeol mentioned South Korea would bolster the nation’s protection business and warned North Korea its regime can be “brought to an end by an overwhelming response” if it used nuclear weapons.

South Korea manufactures arms, such because the tanks, drones and ballistic missiles featured within the parade, to defend towards its primary adversary, North Korea.

North Korea has been conducting a sequence of missile launches this yr, together with a number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and satellites that did not take off.

FILE – In this picture supplied by the North Korean authorities, North Korean chief Kim Jong Un speaks throughout his go to to the navy headquarters in North Korea, on Aug. 27, 2023.

North Korean chief Kim Jong Un mentioned at a key parliamentary assembly that the regime’s ‘nuclear force-building coverage has been made everlasting as the essential legislation of the state,’ in line with the nation’s state-run KCNA on Thursday. Kim additionally blamed the ‘triangular army alliance’ among the many U.S., South Korea and Japan for elevating threats by forming an ‘Asian-version NATO.’

Analysts say that whereas South Korea is taking a stronger army posture towards North Korea, its protection methods should additionally take care of threats from China, particularly as a risk exists for a two-front battle initiated by the 2 autocratic states.

“South Korea absolutely should prepare to deal with threats beyond North Korea,” mentioned Markus Garlauskas, former nationwide intelligence officer for North Korea on the National Intelligence Council on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He’s now director of the Indo-Pacific Initiative of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security on the Atlantic Council.

“It’s clear from South Korea’s defense white papers and its defense acquisitions that Seoul has already begun to prepare to deal with threats beyond North Korea,” Garlauskas mentioned. “But Seoul has been understandably reluctant to be too explicit about what countries it finds threatening. However, this reluctance is slowly fading. China poses an increasingly clear threat to the security interests of South Korea, and I do expect that, over time, Seoul will be more willing to directly acknowledge and confront this threat.’

Garlauskas wrote in a paper published in August about the possibility of a two-front nuclear war breaking out in East Asia – one initiated by a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and the other by a North Korean attack on the South.

“The U.S. and its allies can now not take into consideration conflicts with the PRC and North Korea in isolation from one another” but “should take pressing motion to organize for the potential of dealing with restricted nuclear assaults in an East Asia battle situation,” he said in the paper.

FILE - South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol salutes at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, South Korea, July 26, 2023. FILE – South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol salutes at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, South Korea, July 26, 2023.

South Korea’s defense white paper issued under the Yoon government in February described North Korea as its “enemy” for the first time in six years. It mentioned China in the context of its rivalry with the U.S. but did not specify Beijing as posing a direct threat.

At the same time, however, Seoul said it aims to integrate defense forces and align its capabilities with countries that share its values to respond to “complicated safety threats” as the “safety surroundings is more and more redefined by simultaneous and sophisticated threats.”

In a joint statement that South Korea, the U.S. and Japan issued at the trilateral summit at Camp David in August, the three countries expressed concern about China’s “harmful and aggressive” moves to support its maritime claims and opposed “any unilateral makes an attempt to vary the established order” in the Indo-Pacific.

In a separate document, the three countries committed to consult in coordinating their responses to what they consider “threats affecting our collective pursuits and safety,” without defining the limits of threats.

Leaving open the kinds of threats in the commitment-to-consult pledge South Korea made with the U.S. and Japan broadened the boundaries of threats beyond North Korea to which Seoul could respond upon consultations, analysts said.

The commitment-to-consult pledge “acknowledges that Japan and Korea face widespread threats, particularly however not completely from North Korea,” said Ralph Cossa, president emeritus and WSD-Handa chair in peace studies at the Pacific Forum.

James Przystup, senior fellow at Hudson Institute’s Japan Chair focusing on alliance management in the Indo-Pacific, said, “The dedication to seek the advice of with respect to threats affecting our collective curiosity and safety does broaden potential actions on the a part of the ROK however doesn’t require any ‘motion’ past consultations.”

FILE - President Joe Biden, center, speaks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol during a joint news conference, Aug. 18, 2023, at Camp David in Maryland. FILE – President Joe Biden, heart, speaks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, proper, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol throughout a joint news convention, Aug. 18, 2023, at Camp David in Maryland.

He continued, “The Camp David assertion represents the persevering with evolution of ROK’s strategic pondering with respect to China and alignment with the U.S. and Japan.”

Some analysts said a possible invasion of Taiwan by China would be likely to change South Korea’s defense against North Korea because military assets of U.S. Forces Korea could be redirected to defend the island. Taiwan has been governed independently of China since 1949. Beijing views the self-governing island as its own territory.

Tensions between Taipei and Beijing are increasing, and Taiwan said China has sent dozens of fighter jets, bombers and warships near its waters and airspace in recent weeks that are “getting out of hand.”

“As quickly because the U.S. diverts a few of its sources that may in any other case go to South Korea” in defense of the North, “South Korean protection is weakened no matter whether or not any South Korean forces go,” said Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation.

He said that if the U.S. begins to deploy its forces to defend Taiwan, China is likely to “assault U.S. army bases, particularly those in southern Japan, just like the Kadena Air Base.”

Bennett added, “The very first assault on these bases” could “trigger the mutual protection treaty of South Korea and the U.S. to be invoked, as a result of the mutual protection treaty says that if the both aspect is attacked, the opposite aspect will take actions essential to help its ally” once the ally decides to act.

Cossa, a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum Experts and Eminent Persons Group, said, “One main concern the U.S. ought to have within the occasion of a Taiwan battle is North Korea opening up a second entrance” and “the reverse can be true if within the occasion of a Korea battle.”

“As a consequence,’ he mentioned, ‘a powerful defensive posture would have to be maintained on the peninsula, maybe augmented by others who’re a part of the U.N. Command.”

In August, as Yoon met with key U.N. Command officers, he mentioned North Korea considers the UNC ‘the largest barrier’ to unifying the Korean Peninsula below its communist rule.