A new security landscapeNorth Korea’s rocket launch has shifted the security landscape on the Korean Peninsula, because we must accept the reality that it is capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.
North Korea carried out a nuclear test in 2006. Whether it succeeded is still in doubt. However, some people believe North Korea is equipped with nuclear warheads. North Korea’s armaments are rapidly strengthening for an asymmetrical war. In this regard, we are confronted with mounting security threats. The people and the government should recognize the growing threat and take the lead in tackling these changes.
First, we should thoroughly examine reorganizing our military capacity, which is now mainly comprised of conventional forces such as fighters, field guns, tanks and naval vessels. The North’s asymmetrical strategy cannot be dealt with through conventional forces alone. Thus the South should also develop our nuclear and long-range missile capacity.
At present our military deterrent mainly depends on America’s pledge to defend us and on its nuclear umbrella, which proved trustworthy during the Cold War.
But since the Cold War the North’s ability to wage asymmetrical war has increased. Against this backdrop, measures should be devised to re-examine America’s nuclear umbrella pledge and guarantee the implementation of the pledge in an emergency.
Second, we should redouble our efforts to dissuade North Korea from strengthening its military forces in the long term. Anti-proliferation endeavors led by the United States over the past two decades have resulted in a series of failures.
But the failures so far should not lead us to give up. Rather, it is time to draw up a new plan with more dimensions. We must develop ways to offset our security concerns, to satisfy America as our closest ally, and to reassure neighboring countries such as Japan, China and, of course, North Korea itself.
Finally, the people must adjust their perspective and become aware of the changed security landscape on the Korean Peninsula. The reaction of the South Korean people to the provocative acts by North Korea over the more than six decades since the tragedy of national division has been confused, swinging wildly between numbness and hypersensitivity and caught up in the ideological divisions of Korean society.
The Korean government and civil society should make concerted efforts to gain a precise perception of our security situation and prevent public opinion from disrupting national policy. In particular, an active policy approach by the government would be of great significance.