[LETTERS to the editor]The myth of North Korea’s threatThe myth of North Korea’s threat
North Korea has always haunted South Korean affairs. Hoping for reconciliation, the two previous liberal administrations implemented the Sunshine Policy, which provided unconditional aid to North Korea. The new conservative president, Lee Myung-bak, announced that he would take a more practical stance regarding North Korea, which would prioritize denuclearization in exchange for economic assistance. This angered North Korea.
However, North Korea does not pose any real threat to South Korea. Even though the North possesses nuclear weapons, it is extremely unlikely that it will use this weapon of mass destruction against South Korea. Also, North Korea’s military cannot win against South Korea’s modernized military force.
The biggest threat from North Korea is its nuclear weapons. It is said to have about three nuclear warheads and clearly demonstrated its capability in a nuclear test in October 2006. However, using nuclear weapons against South Korea would be suicidal and highly unlikely. If North Korea uses its nuclear weapon against South Korea, immediate retaliation from the United States will follow. The United States, which is South Korea’s strongest ally, has vast nuclear capabilities which no other country can match. Fully aware of this, North Korea cannot preemptively attack the South.
Indeed, North Korean nuclear weapons are only a superficial threat that can not be applied in the real world.
In addition, North Korea’s outdated military cannot win against South Korea in a conventional war. North Korea’s million-man army may look impressive, but it is quality that determines strength. Iraq also had a million-man army but it could not stand against the American army.
In fact, North Korean soldiers reportedly suffer from malnutrition and rarely train due to a scarcity of fuel and ammunition. They no longer train for war, but spend most hours harvesting crops and other activities that require labor. Also, their weapons are at least 30 years old that can not work effectively in a war.
South Korea only has about 650,000 active duty soldiers but is backed by more than 4.5 million reservists who can be called to duty. The South Korean army is well trained and poised to become a highly effective force. As a result, South Korea is roughly five times more powerful than North Korea. Given this situation, it is obvious that North Korea is not in a position to fight against South Korea, even in a conventional war.
In conclusion, South Korea does not face any grave threats from North Korea.
It is true that South Korea’s new stance brought tension between the two countries after a decade of relative peace.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that South Korea faces any imminent, real threat. The South Korean government responded coolly to North Korea’s threat because it knows which side has the advantage in today’s situation.
North Korea can not use its nuclear weapons because the world’s superpower, the United States, is South Korea’s strongest ally. Also, the North Korean army is not able to fight South Korea’s efficient and well-equipped army.
The threat from North Korea is more psychological, even mythical, than real, which has lingered on the Korean Peninsula for more than half a century.
Kim Yu-ri, a senior student, Daewon Foreign Language High School
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