This was accepted and then withdrawn by a SK newspaper as too controversial even though the SK president himself suggested this. I don’t get that…
So I sent it to 1945.com instead. Basically the problem is that neither missile defense nor negotiations are dependable enough to protect South Korea against what is emerging as an existential threat to SK from North Korea’s spiraling missile program. Missile defense does not work well and is very expensive. Negotiations might reduce the North Korean arsenal but almost certainly not enough to eliminate the state- and society-breaking threat of the North’s nuclear missiles
Yoon’s answer is preemptive strikes on NK missile sites in event of a crisis. He got a lot criticism as a reckless war-monger earlier this year, and his suggestion is obviously hugely risky. It could provoke the very war it is trying to defend against. But he is ‘thinking the unthinkable’ as they used to say. Presidents must think about this stuff; that’s Yoon’s job, and if you don’t like his answer, come up with something else.
North Korea increasingly has the ability to rapidly devastate South Korea. The North Korean missile program is mature – more missiles, faster, longer-range, more easily fueled, more maneuverable, and so on. Its nuclear program is maturing too. Kim Jong Un now wants to develop tactical nuclear warheads and MIRVs. And this frightening arsenal is unsupervised. There are no inspectors, no NPT, no IAEA.
So yes, let’s keep talking. And yes, let’s keep throwing money at missile defense and pray it works. But when your facing an orwellian tyranny right next door who has aggressively threatened you for decades, you inevitably start thinking about options which might otherwise seem extreme.
Here’s that 1945 essay:
South Korea’s Debate over Preemption is the Inevitable Result of North Korea’s Rapid Missilization – As a presidential candidate, South Korean President-Elect Yoon Seok-Yeol suggested that South Korea might need to preemptively strike North Korea because of its spiraling missile development. This was criticized as provoking the very conflict it seeks to avoid. Obviously, no one but the most belligerent hawks seeks confrontation with North Korea. A second Korean War would be devasting, which Yoon clearly knows. Instead, Yoon is identifying, correctly, a growing strategic threat to South Korea – one which might become genuinely existential if left unchecked.
The North Korean Missile Challenge:
The conventional inter-Korean stalemate is deadlocked on the ground. In fact, North Korea is gradually losing that stand-off as American and South Korean technological prowess outstrip its large but antiquated conventional forces. The North knows this too. It has therefore invested for decades in nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. These capabilities help it level the playing field.
Please read the rest here.