Weighing South Korea’s options for improving its missile defenses
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Weighing South Korea’s options for improving its missile defenses

NK NEWS – KOREA PRO

APLN Policy Fellow Joel Petersson Ivre writes on Seoul’s need for farsighted policy to respond to North Korean weapons threats while also managing ties with China. Read the full article on the NK News website here (paywall).

Shortly before taking office, new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol released an ambitious 110-point agenda with a surprising omission: It didn’t say anything about Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense batteries, even after Yoon played up the issue throughout his election campaign.

China’s perceptions of THAAD likely factored into the new president’s decision. After Yoon’s election, China’s Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming warned that THAAD is a “taboo word in China-South Korea relations.” Chinese diplomats have undoubtedly expressed the same sentiment to Yoon in private.

If Yoon is downplaying THAAD due to concerns about Beijing’s views, he might not be the China hawk he is often made out to be. But Yoon may also be weighing the pros and cons of different ways to boost South Korean missile defenses.

During his campaign, Yoon suggested that South Korea should upgrade its existing THAAD battery, but he later made a short Facebook post that simply said “Additional THAAD deployment.” His adviser Kim Sung-han then clarified that Yoon meant South Korea should purchase its own THAAD battery, as opposed to deploying one operated by the U.S

Read the full article on the NK News website here (paywall).

Image: A THAAD missile battery in Guam, Feb. 2019 | Capt. Adan Cazarez, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command