Peace through strength gets bipartisan supportNorth Korea fired seven short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) on four occasions over a week. Such successive launches of missiles in such a short period of time are unprecedented. The North did so while the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group was conducting a joint drill with the South Korean navy on the East Sea and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris was visiting South Korea. That’s not all. The North again engaged in a missile provocation on the morning of October 1, when South Korea was celebrating the 74th anniversary of the founding of the military. That’s also unprecedented. A security expert called it “aggressive military acts demonstrated by a state that completed nuclear armaments.” We are deeply concerned about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s unceasing military threats.
The Yoon Suk-yeol administration sent a strong warning to North Korea. The president invited 4,600 people — including National Assembly speaker Kim Jin-pyo and ambassadors from foreign countries that participated in the Korean War — to the ceremony for the first time in six years. That decision carries significance as it reflects the conservative administration’s decision to resume the joint Korea-U.S. military drills that were suspended or scaled down by the Moon Jae-in administration.
In a speech that day, Yoon declared that if North Korea uses nuclear weapons, it will face an overwhelming counteraction from the allies. The president proclaimed that his government will raise the level of the alliance by ratcheting up the implementation capability of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (Edscg) between the two allies as long as the North’s nuclear threat remains.
The military showed the firing of powerful surface-to-surface Hyeonmu missiles for the first time after explaining to the audience South Korea’s three-axis missile defense based on a Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan. The short-range Hyeonmu missiles that can carry 9-ton warheads are one of the strongest conventional weapons for use against North Korea in times of a nuclear attack. U.S. Air Force fighters also were displayed in the ceremony for the first time.
In the meantime, North Korea is escalating its level of provocation. It has fired missiles 20 times since January and prepares to conduct its seventh nuclear test. We urge Pyongyang to abandon its reckless nuclear development and instead take care of its own people.
The North’s bold provocation amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use tactical nukes against Ukraine raises alarms. The Yoon administration must deal with the North Korean threat wisely. Fortunately, the Democratic Party stressed that it will fully support the government’s effort to achieve a self-reliant national defense. In a dramatic turn, the dovish party underscored the importance of achieving peace through strength. We welcome the shift as it will certainly help calm the public’s anxiety about security.