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Nuclear Dissolution on the North Korea-South Korea Line

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The Asia-Pacific Region can be defined as a region where fault lines of global security cross. Especially the Korean Peninsula in the region creates serious security threats both regionally and internationally due to the nuclear danger. In this context, it can be argued that there is a serious competition between North Korea and South Korea in the region in question and that nuclear power plays a critical role in this struggle.

In this context, the South Korean National Intelligence Agency said that North Korea has developed a new solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile and can fire it in March or April 2023. In addition, it was also stated that Pyongyang is expected to carry out a large-scale military exercise involving nuclear forces on the same dates. At the same time, it was shared that a military reconnaissance satellite could be launched in April 2023. As a matter of fact, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean President Kim Jong-un, also stated that North Korea is “ready to take an intense and overwhelming measure” against the activities of the United States (US) and South Korea in the region.[1]

At this point, it should be noted that solid fuel allows missiles to be launched faster than liquid fuel. Because it can be said that Pyongyang not only increased its tests, but also increased its nuclear power and capacity.

In addition to all these, in the statement made by the South Korean Army, it was stated that North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile into the waters on the west coast on March 9, 2023. It has also been stated that Pyongyang has the possibility of launching not one, but more than one missile.[2]  It is noteworthy that this development came after Kim Yo Jong’s threatening statements. Because it is seen that the discourses of North Korea do not remain only as rhetoric, but also find a response in the field. It can be argued that this causes significant security concerns in South Korea.

As a matter of fact, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s decision to go to the USA in April 2023 can be read from this framework. This development will be of symbolic importance as it is the first official visit of a South Korean leader to the United States since 2011. It is also very meaningful that this visit corresponds to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the alliance between the two countries. For this reason, the South Korean Presidential Office defined the alliance between the parties as one of the most successful alliance relations in history and said that Yoon’s visit will also contain important opportunities for more active development of bilateral cooperation. It is also planned that Yoon and US President Joe Biden will hold a meeting within the scope of expanded deterrence and security.[3] On the other hand, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon also said that South Korea should make its own nuclear weapons for defense against North Korea.[4]

It is understood that South Korea, which deeply feels the nuclear threat originating from Pyongyang, is in search of new ones. Because it is known that Seoul does not have any nuclear power. Therefore, its own capacity is not enough to fight Pyongyang. Therefore, it is known that Seoul frequently asks for help from the Washington administration. On the other hand, US support does not create the deterrence that South Korea expects at the point of North Korea. This encourages Seoul to seek new ways to take care of itself.

South Korea, which is currently uncomfortable with North Korea’s nuclear activities and therefore encouraging de-nuclearization efforts, is considering creating its own nuclear power. The reason for this is the security dilemma in the region. Because Seoul can no longer find any other solution and tries to reduce its security concerns by following proactive policies. Therefore, it can be said that South Korea will raise its hand as long as Pyongyang’s nuclear and proactive activities continue.

Moreover, Yoon’s statement at the National Security Council Meeting on March 16, 2023, “Pyongyang will pay for its provocations” can be interpreted in this way. Because this discourse indicates that South Korea will adopt an assertive stance against the nuclear crisis created by North Korea.[5]

In conclusion, it can be said that the Korean Peninsula is an important and critical region for the nuclear crisis. Although it is known that this danger creates significant security concerns both globally and in the Asia-Pacific Region, it can be argued that these concerns are felt much more closely and seriously in South Korea. For this reason, it can be stated that Seoul has changed its foreign policy in terms of national security concerns and adopted more proactive policies compared to the past.


[1] “North Korea May Launch New ICBM in March or April, Says South”, NHK World-Japan, https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230307_40/, (Date of Accession: 17.03.2023).

[2] “North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Toward Sea, Seoul Says”, AP News, https://apnews.com/article/north-korea-ballistic-missile-test-4d4288036d03cae19c7615232c4c5395, (Date of Accession: 17.03.2023).

[3] “South Korea President to Make US State Visit in April”, NHK World-Japan, https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230308_08/, (Date of Accession: 17.03.2023).

[4] “South Korea Should Build Nuclear Weapons To Defend Against North, Says Seoul’s Mayor”, South China Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/3213305/south-korea-should-build-nuclear-weapons-protect-against-north-says-seouls-mayor, (Date of Accession: 17.03.2023).

[5] “Pyongyang Will Pay For Provocations, South Korean President Says”, NHK World – Japan, https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230316_14/, (Date of Accession: 17.03.2023).

Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan Gülten graduated from Yalova University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations in 2021 with his graduation thesis titled "American Foreign Policy" and from Anadolu University, Open Education Faculty, Department of Foreign Trade in 2023. Gülten, who is currently pursuing her Master's Degree with Thesis at Marmara University Institute of Social Sciences, Department of International Relations, was a student at the Faculty of International and Political Studies at Lodz University for a semester within the framework of the Erasmus+ program during her undergraduate education. Working as an Asia-Pacific Research Assistant at ANKASAM, Gülten's main areas of interest are American Foreign Policy, Asia-Pacific and International Law. Gülten is fluent in English.