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Yoon’s new security strategy identifies NK as most pressing threats

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : June 7, 2023 - 18:43

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The Yoon Suk Yeol administration on Wednesday released its first top security guidelines, the National Security Strategy, identifying North Korea's advancing nuclear development as the most pressing threat.

The newly revised guidelines, under the theme of a global pivotal state for freedom, peace and prosperity, marks the first update in five years since the previous Moon Jae-in administration published its guidelines envisioning a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula in 2018.

The new guidelines include Yoon’s new security strategy within a context of intensifying strategic competition between the US and China, advancing nuclear and missile capabilities of North Korea, and a rapidly changing security environment encompassing supply chain instability, climate change and cyber threats.

In contrast to the previous Moon administration's emphasis on prioritizing peace on the Korean Peninsula through a peaceful approach to the North Korean nuclear issue, the new guideline focuses on strengthening the Korea-US alliance, enhancing Korea-US-Japan security cooperation and promoting the normalization of inter-Korean relations based on "principles."

The National Security Strategy stated that “North Korea’s continued advancement of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities are the most pressing" security challenge.

It added, “As a result, it is more critical than ever to strengthen our military’s defense capabilities and reinforce a robust ROK-US combined defense posture.”

This approach stands in opposition with former guidelines, which stated that a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issues was becoming visible, referring to the inter-Korean summit and US-North Korea summit at the time, without any description of the North Korean nuclear threat.

The new strategy also does not include the declaration of the end of the Korean War and peace agreement, which the former Moon administration took as major steps in its North Korean denuclearization road map.

The approach towards Korea-Japan relations has also undergone a shift from the strategy pursued during the Moon government. The revised guideline emphasizes the importance of sharing universal values ​​with Japan while enhancing regional and global cooperation. Notably, the specific mention of Korea's resolute response to historical distortion and unjust assertions concerning the Dokdo islets, as stated in the previous strategy book under Moon Jae-in's administration, has been omitted this time.

In East Asian diplomacy, the revised strategy highlights the achievements in improving Korea-Japan relations, restructuring the order of priority to Japan-China-Russia.