Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tsutomu Nishioka

【#550】South Korea on a Path to National Suicide

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2018.10.24 (Wed)

October 22, 2018

     In the October 1 “Speaking Out” column, I pointed out the dangerousness of the military agreement between North and South Koreas that is set to take effect on November 1. As I noted then, retired service members and conservatives in the South have growingly criticized the agreement that could be characterized as South Korea’s unilateral disarmament. Surprisingly, however, none among active service members or senior Defense Ministry officials has offered resignation in protest to the agreement. In fact, none of them has publicly brought up its dangerousness.

Weakening defense capabilities
     South Korea’s liberal democracy system has weakened beyond our imaginings. I could go on and on about the weakening.
     For example, the agreement bans military exercises on five Seoul-controlled islands close to North Korea in the Yellow Sea west of the Korean Peninsula effective on November 1. Analysts including me have pointed out that this ban could dangerously weaken defense against North Korean attacks on the five islands. According to recent South Korean newspaper reports, however, marines stationed on the five islands have conducted no drill there since President Moon Jae In met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Panmunjom in April. Instead, marines reportedly have conducted drills on grounds far away from North Korea. While marines may be able to retain their proficiency, rocket artillery left on the islands could rust from disuse.
     Second, President Moon approved a defense reform plan in July as drafted by the Defense Ministry, which would reduce the Army’s strength by 120,000 from the present 600,000 in four years to 2022. So far, North Korea has not implemented its denuclearization promise or showed its will to cut conventional forces. In such stage, South Korea plans to cut forces by as much as 20%.
     Third, anti-tank barriers have been installed on roads north of Seoul that are to explode and block up roads in the contingency that North Korean tanks march southward. At the request of local residents complaining the barriers cause a traffic jam, however, Seoul removed them at an annual average rate of 1.8 barriers in five years to 2017. This year, Seoul plans to dismantle a total of 13 such barriers including three that have already been dismantled.

Revolutionaries surrounding President Moon
     Why has the Moon government unilaterally weakened his own country’s defense capabilities? He was a leader of student movements seeking democratization from the position of anti-communism in the 1970s and a lawyer rather than a student when the Juchesasangpa (movement of self-reliance philosophy) supporting North Korea became a mainstream student movement in the 1980s. In other words, he has never participated in any revolutionary movement that ideologically supports North Korea and pursues the red unification of the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, he may not be a communist. But he may be obsessed with a leftist pro-Pyongyang nationalism that has prospered since the 1980s, failing to look squarely the dread of North Korea.
     However, many of those appointed as secretaries for the Executive Office are former revolutionaries having supported North Korea in the 1980s and have not declared their conversion. They could have acknowledged that weakening South Korean defense capabilities would be favorable for a revolution.
     Approval ratings for the Moon government are still more than 50%. South Korean conservatives are seriously asserting that South Korea is on a path to national suicide.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a member of the Planning Committee at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and Visiting Professor at Reitaku University.