South Korean Attitudes Toward Nuclear North Korea

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Korea was formerly one country until Japan (which governed Korea from 1910 to World War 2) fled after dominating the Korean Peninsula for decades. The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to split Korea into South and North Korea in August 1945. Russia controlled through communism, whereas America ruled through democracy. As a result, the two divisions of Korea adopted the political philosophies of their invaders, resulting in the Korean War. North and South Korea's conflict ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty. The schism resulted in the world's most heavily armed border (demilitarized zone) between the two countries (Schmitt 2014).  Both South and North Korea see themselves as the legitimate government of the country. North Korea’s poses a threat to the world’s peace due to its quest for military and nuclear power. Following the end of the Korean War, by the then North Korea leader Kim Li-sung adopted Juche philosophy that denotes self-reliance. Due to North Korea’s policy of isolation and unclear foreign policies, the South Korea worries that North Korea may use its nuclear weapon to hit its territory. North Korea leader (Kim Jong-un) has continuously tested missiles against the United Nations Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty. Currently, there is considerable tension between the South Korea and North Korea, as South Korea seeks to stop North Korea from its nuclear programs (Davidge 2015) backed by the US.

Parties Involved

The parties involved are the North Korea, South Korea, United States, China, and Japan. Currently, the central conflict is between the South Korea supported by its ally, the United States, and North Korea, which receives support from China to support its political stability.

South Korea Stance on North Korea

According to Asan Institute for Policy Studies (2015), South Korea has complicated view and position over North Korea nuclear threats in the region. Even though skepticism keeps on surfacing, the South Korea government has continued pursuing the enhancement of its relations with the hostile North Korea. However, perceptions regarding North Korea actions largely remain negative. After North Korea had tested its nuclear warhead for the fourth time on January 6, 2016, politicians and pundits in South Korea set to renew their calls for Seoul to embrace its options regarding nuclear. Thus, considering that North Korea has proven to be a security threat, South Korea, supported by the US started countermeasures and survival strategies and thus launched broad peaceful missile and nuclear programs for self-defense (Toby Dalton 2016).

Supporting Theory

According to a book, Comparative Politics (Tyler Dickovick $ Jonathan Eastwood 2012), a regime should be considered dangerous but not a country. In this case, Kim Jong-Un should be regarded as more dangerous than North Korea as a country. North Korea poses strategic challenges to the South Korea. Kim’s regime is to be feared not because he is strong but because he is crazy. What is to be dreaded even more is the fact that Kim has nuclear technology and would not hesitate to unleash his crazy mind at the slightest provocation by the US and its allies. Thus, the US and its allies in the region should not focus only on North Korea as a country but also on Kim’s regime.

South Korea’s Strategies to Overcome Nuclear North Korea

The advances that Pyongyang’s long-range missile capabilities and nuclear weapons had gone sparked security and safety uncertainties amongst the South Koreans. One of the biggest problems with Pyongyang’s regime is ignorance and the Juche philosophy of self-reliance. Due to this, the country leader, Kim Jong-un does not consider any diplomatic measures to solve a problem. Most politicians in South Korea think that Seoul should not rely entirely on the US, and this has prompted the country to pursue its nuclear options for self-defense. Some politicians appeal for Seoul to abandon the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and pursue its nuclear weapons. This is however argued against by Representative Roh Chul-are who states that the best option will be installation of THAAD “a missile defense system” (Toby Dalton 2016). However, most of the decisions that the South Korea makes about its foreign policy on North Korea are supported by the United States.


Asan Institute of Policy Studies. 2015. South Korean Attitudes toward North Korea and Reunification. Washington, D.C. , US: Asan Institute of Policy Studies.

Davidge, Joel. 2015. The differences between South and North Korea explained. September 11. Accessed May 02, 2017.

Schmitt, Caroline. 2014. North and South Korea: how different are they? October 15. Accessed May 02, 2017.

Toby Dalton, Byun Sunggee, Lee Sang Tae. 2016. "South Korea Debates Nuclear Options." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 27.

Tyler Dickovick, Jonathan Eastwood. 2012. Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases. UK: Oxford University Press.

May 02, 2023

World Life

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Japan Democracy Peace

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