New South Korean Administration: Improving Deterrence through Cooperation with Japan and the US

For the first time in five years, a conservative administration has been inaugurated in South Korea. We hope it will strengthen cooperation with Japan and the U.S., which share the values of freedom and democracy, and promote policy to deal with the threats from North Korea and China.

In his inaugural address, President Yoon Seok-youl stressed that the North Korean nuclear issue “threatens not only the Korean Peninsula but also peace in Asia and the world.” At the same time, he also indicated he would provide economic assistance to North Korea if the country would suspend its nuclear development program and change course toward substantive denuclearization.

Former leftist President Moon Jae-in pursued a policy of appeasement that emphasized dialogue and economic cooperation with North Korea, but failed to achieve denuclearization.

Nevertheless, there are persistent voices in South Korea that support appeasement with the North, and the conflict between conservatives and the left continues. Yoon’s approval rating is 41%, which is lower than that of previous presidents when they first took office.

In his speech, Yoon toned down his confrontational approach to North Korea and referred to dialogue and cooperation, perhaps in part because he did not want to deepen the divisions in society.

It will not be easy for Yoon to convince North Korea to suspend its nuclear program, but his emphasis on Japan and the U.S. is already clear compared to the previous administration, which was conspicuous in its concern about China and North Korea.

As early as April, Yoon sent a series of delegations consisting of close aides and experts to Japan and the United States to lay the groundwork for diplomacy. The new administration’s appointments have shown a commitment to strengthening the U.S.-South Korea alliance by naming U.S. experts to key positions, including the head of the president’s National Security Office.

North Korea has recently launched repeated ballistic missiles and is reportedly preparing to conduct a nuclear test, and it is not likely that North Korea will agree to denuclearization. You could say that Yoon’s basic line of improving deterrence by strengthening cooperation with Japan is a realistic policy.

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I am currently a university student with a degree in International Affairs and a soon to be degree in Japanese.

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