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Yoon Suk-yeol, a new president under North Korean threat

A new period of military tensions is opening for the Korean peninsula. Faced with a North Korea more than ever determined to pursue its ballistic missile programs and even to relaunch its nuclear tests, the coming to power on Tuesday 10 May of the new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol does not bode well. good for regional peace. At 61, this notorious warmonger announced the color by qualifying North Korea as “main enemy” from South Korea. And this hard line already seems to have angered Pyongyang.

Yoon Suk-yeol threatens North Korea with a preemptive strike ‘if necessary’

For five years, South Korean President Moon Jae-in pursued a policy of dialogue with Pyongyang which eased tensions but which did not lead to any peace treaty or the denuclearization of North Korea. For the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol, winner on the wire Thursday, March 10, this approach “servile” resulted in a clear failure. During the campaign, he called Kim Jong-un a “rude boy” and promised that once in power he would make the North Korean leader behave in a way ” adult “. Worse still, this jurist who entered politics very recently even said he was ready for a preventive strike against North Korea. ” if necessary “.

→ PORTRAIT. South Korea: Yoon Suk-yeol, a new war-mongering president

Three days before Yoon Suk-yeol took office, and hours after the United States warned that Pyongyang could resume nuclear testing in the coming weeks, North Korea fired a missile sea-to-ground ballistics, announced the general staff of the South Korean army. This is the fifteenth show of force this year for this nuclear-armed country, which also launched an intercontinental ballistic missile in March for the first time since 2017.

“A seventh nuclear test would be the first since September 2017”

“Instead of accepting invitations for dialogue, the Kim regime appears to be preparing to test a tactical nuclear warhead,” says Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. North Korea had conducted six nuclear tests before engaging in high-level diplomacy with the United States, with then-US President Donald Trump meeting Kim Jong-un four times. “A seventh nuclear test would be the first since September 2017 and would fuel tensions on the Korean peninsula, increasing the dangers of miscalculation and miscommunication between the Kim regime and the future Yoon administration,” further explains Leif-Eric Easley.

“The hope for detente and a rapprochement between the North and the South which prevailed during the South Korean presidency of Moon Jae-in seems definitively extinguished, assures the French koreanologist Juliette Morillot (1). The regional context has also completely changed after two years of a Covid epidemic which forced the total closure of the North Korean borders. »

The almost total isolation of North Korea has not prevented Kim Jong-un from accelerating the modernization of its arsenal, establishing itself more than ever as a serious nuclear power. The more time passes, the more difficult it will be to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal, which the regime considers its “life insurance against any American attack”, specifies Juliette Morillot.

→ MAINTENANCE. North Korea: “Missile fire will continue”

South Korea, meanwhile, has a superior conventional weapons capability than its northern neighbor, and Yoon Suk-yeol has already called for the deployment of more US military assets…just when US President Joe Biden is due to visit Seoul on May 20.

South Korea tested its own strategic ballistic sea-to-surface missile in 2021, becoming one of the few countries to master this technology. She also unveiled a supersonic cruise missile, highlighting an arms race in the peninsula, which appears more than ever like a real powder keg.

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