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S. Korea should achieve ‘robust peace’ rather than ‘insecure peace’

S. Korea should achieve ‘robust peace’ rather than ‘insecure peace’

Posted August. 16, 2017 07:37,   

Updated August. 16, 2017 07:54

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In his congratulatory speech for the 72nd Liberation Day on Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in said, “The (South Korean) government will prevent war by using every measure available.” Mentioning the word "peace" as many as 20 times, President Moon emphasized that only South Korea should decide on military action on the Korean Peninsula and no one else can decide on military action without South Korea’s consent. “We cannot afford to only depend on allies for our national security,” Moon said, emphasizing anew South Korea’s leadership role. “Resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue should start with North Korea’s freezing of nuclear weapons.”

Since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he will wait to see the U.S.’ next move after threatening missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, Pyongyang’s intention to make a provocation has apparently eased. Kim instructed his military, “Always be prepared to launch the missile to ensure what we can start actual combat at any time,” but it is truly a seismic shift from his earlier moves to continuously intensify the level of provocations. The U.S. has used strongly hardline rhetoric with President Donald Trump mentioning "fire and fury" and "military options locked and loaded" and effectively declared trade war against China to pressure Beijing to take action against Pyongyang. As China has placed a ban on import of North Korean minerals, North Korea is set to feel pressure as well. Meanwhile, the U.S. left open an "exit" for Kim Jong Un by saying that the door for dialogue remains open. Washington’s new North Korea policy to transform into "maximum intervention" through "maximum pressure" is effectively showing signs to generate effect.

In his speech, President Moon also eased the conditions for resumption of dialogue with Pyongyang to a halt of nuclear and missile provocations and suggested freezing of nuclear weapons as the starting point for negotiations. This is so-called the theory of entrance to dialogue for freezing nuclear weapons. This idea stems from the judgment of reality that in order to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table, the threshold for dialogue should be lowered. However, if South Korea is to resume dialogue, it should achieve eventual dismantlement of nuclear weapons without fail. If the U.S. chooses to terminate the crisis only under the condition that Pyongyang stops the development of ICBM that poses immediate threat to the U.S. mainland, South Korea will end up facing a situation wherein it has to live with a country armed with nuclear weapons right on its northern border.

As President Moon said, peace on the Korean Peninsula is a mandate imperative to South Korea. The tragedy of war should never happen on the Korean Peninsula. However, South Korea can no longer afford to accept insecure peace. Even if prevention of a war, which could erupt due to North Korea’s provocation, is immediately important, South Korea should collaborate with the international community to pressure the North to force Pyongyang to give up nuclear weapons on its own. True peace should be robust peace through power. To ensure this, Seoul should secure strong deterrence against North Korea under the principle of nuclear weapons to counter nuclear weapons, and retaliation to counter provocation. If necessary, South Korea should persuade allies and the international community.