President Yoon Suk Yeol’s office issued its first National Security Strategy Wednesday.
The paper highlighted its vision to become a “global pivotal state for freedom, peace and prosperity” amid the rapidly changing international environment and intensifying regional security threats.
The leading government policy paper in the field of diplomacy, unification and national defense was released for the first time in five years, outlining the Yoon administration’s goals to address current and future security challenges while defending liberal democracy and contributing to global prosperity and solidarity.
“Our three goals are to protect our national sovereignty and territory to promote public safety, establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and prepare for a unified future and lay the ground for prosperity in East Asia while expanding our global role,” Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo said in a press briefing announcing the document at the Yongsan presidential office.
The document pinpointed the “most pressing” issues as North Korea’s continued advancement of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction capabilities.
It highlighted the importance of trilateral security cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan to counter such nuclear and missile threats, and with a “shared understanding of the strategic significance of the Indo-Pacific region.”
It also stressed that there is a “compelling need to transform the deteriorated Korea-Japan relationship into a “forward-looking, cooperative partnership.”
Other challenges include intensifying U.S.-China strategic competition and emerging security issues such as supply chain stabilization, climate change and cyber warfare.
The strategy report was first published in 2004 under the Roh Moo-hyun administration and released by succeeding governments amid changing security environments and state policies. There are two versions, including a public document accessible to everyone and a confidential version distributed to each ministry to be used as a policy implementation guideline.
The Office of National Security released simultaneously on Monday a 107-page Korean-language version and a 150-page English-language version. It plans to distribute 10,000 copies of the document, including 3,000 English-language copies, to publicize the Yoon government’s foreign affairs and security strategy both domestically and abroad, said the presidential office.
The Moon Jae-in government also published its national security strategy paper in 2018, focusing on building a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula.
The 2023 paper described the Yoon government’s core strategic tenets as diplomacy advancing national interests; reinforcing defense through enhanced military power; establishing inter-Korean relations based on principles and reciprocity; proactively seeking economic security; and responding to new security threats.
“We will continue to develop our military into a strong and technologically advanced force, thereby creating a solid foundation of security,” Yoon wrote in the preface to the document. “Our goal is to foster a sustainable peace that guarantees freedom and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, as opposed to a fragile and short-lived peace that merely postpones war.”
Yoon shared a vision of working with the international community to “safeguard universal values, such as freedom, human rights and the rule of law, and to uphold the international order based on rules and principles,” as well as in overcoming global challenges including environmental pollution and diseases.
Referring to Yoon’s summit with U.S. President Joe Biden on April 26, the document said the two countries deepened their comprehensive global strategic alliance and upgraded the South Korea-U.S. alliance “to a new paradigm based on nuclear deterrence.”
Regarding China, the paper called to “foster a healthier and more mature relationship” built on “mutual respect and reciprocity.”
It also noted “we will make it clear that the Thaad deployment is a matter of our security sovereignty,” referring to the deployment of the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense antimissile system to Korea, which had been strongly protested by China.
Noting the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, the document said that there is “an increasing necessity for the government to conduct a thorough reevaluation of our diplomatic policy toward Russia,” as it aims to manage relations in a “stable manner guided by international norms.”
The Yoon government also stressed that Asean is a “critical partner for promoting regional peace and shared prosperity,” as a part of its broader Indo-Pacific strategy announced last December.
Seoul plans to create a strategic environment that encourages Pyongyang to engage in negotiations through “deterrence” of North Korea’s nuclear threats, “dissuasion” of its nuclear development and “dialogue” for denuclearization, sometimes referred to as the “3D” approach.
The Yoon government outlined its so-called “audacious initiative” in more detail, stating that if Pyongyang “genuinely” returns to denuclearization negotiations, Seoul will lead discussions by “implementing initial measures to improve the living conditions of North Koreans.” Once a roadmap for denuclearization is agreed upon, comprehensive measures covering the economic, political, and military sectors will be implemented simultaneously, the document added.
Seoul also plans to establish an “Inter-Korean Joint Economic Development Committee” to focus on five major projects in infrastructure-building, improvement of living conditions and economic development.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]